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64049 >Cg 


and Other Essays in Social 


Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago 






All rights reserved. This book, or 

parts thereof, may not be reproduced 

in any form without permission of 

the publishers. 




In Grateful Remembrance 


The bringing together of the materials in this book into one 
volume is in answer to requests made from time to time by my 
former students who are teaching sociology and who wish to 
have their students read them. Some of these think that a 
somewhat wider public might also find them of interest. Nearly 
everything here presented has been published before, but the 
period of publication extends over several years and the journals 
and books in which many of these essays first saw the light are, 
in some libraries, inaccessible. All reluctance was ended by the 
publisher's willingness to accept the book " sight unseen." 

The problem of selection and rejection was not an easy one, 
but doubtful cases were referred to my colleagues in the depart- 
ment at Chicago, who have counseled me with merciless affection. 
The effort has been made to include a representative list of dis- 
cussions on some five leading interests with which, in my teaching 
and writing, I have been concerned. Much of it is polemic, 
which will surprise no one who is familiar with the history of 
social psychology in this generation. It must be confessed that 
there is a disturbing amount of repetition which will try the 
patience of some readers, with whose feelings I find myself in 
entire sympathy. The explanation is easier than the defense. 
The selections were published separately and for the most part 
reached different readers. Now that they have been brought 
together, it is somewhat embarrassing, but efforts at elision 
proved so difficult that I have taken more comfort than I am 
entitled to take from a remark made by one of my old teachers: 
" Saint Paul discovered the foolishness of preaching, but I have 
discovered the virtue of repetition." 

Acknowledgments and thanks are due to the editors and 
publishers who have kindly consented to permit the reprinting 
of these essays. " Current Trends in Social Psychology" 
appeared in Essays in Philosophy, published by the Open Court 
Publishing Company as a commemorative volume in honor of 



my former teachers of philosophy, Professors Tufts, Mead, Ames, 
and Moore. This will account for the personal nature of some 
of the references in the text. The same remark applies to "The 
Concept of Social Attitudes/' first published in Social Attitudes 
by Henry Holt & Company in honor of my former colleague, 
W. I. Thomas. "Social Evolution" appeared in Contributions 
of Science to Religion, published by D. Appleton-Century Com- 
pany, Inc. "The Origin of Punishment" appears in Primitive 
and Ancient Legal Institutions, Little, Brown & Company, but 
was first published in the International Journal of Ethics. Ebony 
and Topaz, issued by the magazine Opportunity, published "The 
Natural History of Race Prejudice." 

Acknowledgment is also due the editors and publishers 
of the Southwestern Political Science Quarterly for permission to 
use "Racial Attitudes and Sentiments"; to The Journal of 
Religious Education for similar courtesy in connection with 
"The Nature and Significance of the Mores" and the three essays 
that immediately follow: "The Fundamental Tendencies of 
Children," "Discipline in the Modern Family," and "Implica- 
tions of Behaviorism." Sociology and Social Research published 
"Social Attitudes," The Social Service Review the essay on 
"Racial Superiority," and The Journal of Educational Sociology 
the one on "Two Educational Problems." In addition, the 
editors of the Proceedings of the American Sociological Society have 
given permission to use four of the articles that first appeared 
in those volumes, and the University of Chicago Press has granted 
formal permission to reprint freely from the American Journal of 
Sociology, where several of the included essays appeared while I 
was editor of the Journal. 

The discussion on "Standpoint and Method of Sociology" was 
presented before the Society for the Study of Child Development. 
It was prepared more as an outline than as a finished paper and 
there is still some doubt as to the appropriateness of its inclusion. 
This doubt concerns only the adequacy of the form; the impor- 
tance of the problem is undeniable. The essay in question has 
not been published before. "The Subjective Aspect of Culture" 
has been rewritten. 

My former secretary, Mrs. Katherine Niles Lind, copied out 
the chapters from the books and helped much to lighten the task. 
My present secretary, Mrs. Martha Gross, most generously 


helped as the book was going through the press. Lyle M. 
Spencer, Fellow in Sociology, did most of the work on the index. 
My debt to my colleagues at Chicago is too great ever to be 
paid and my obligation to other writers in these fields is so 
obvious that no reader can fail to see it. 

April, 1937. 











































INDEX 367 


We are human because we can talk; civilized when we can 
write; and scientific when we have a sound method of isolating 
problems, seeking facts, inventing explanations and testing 
these objectively. And so we are scientific in some of our activi- 
ties and not in others. In some fields we are semi-scientific, in 
others only proto-scientific. Social psychology is not a mature 
science nor a secure one ; a scientific social psychology seems at 
times little more than a program and a hope. But the need for 
such a science is widely felt and the possibility of perfecting it is 
attractive. The words I have written in this book are intended 
to claim little more. 

Although statements about society and personality occur in 
the oldest books and although even in the proverbs of the anthro- 
pophagi there is much of wisdom about life and its struggles, yet 
the systematic search for sound methods of investigation in this 
aspect of nature is of so recent a date that ours could almost be 
called the youngest daughter of Science. And it is this temporal 
immaturity that justifies the pride that we may take in the little 
we have done and makes unfair any reproach that we have not 
done more. 

Sciences take time to grow. As early as 1543 Copernicus 
proved the revolution of the heavenly orbs, but it was not till 
1687 that Newton discovered the formula that reduced the 
movements to law. And if it took 144 years for celestial mechan- 
ics to take that single step, sociology should neither feel nor 
incite impatience: perhaps by the year 2050 we shall have broken 
the record. 

This book is, of course, not even an attempt to present a sys- 
tematic statement of our achievements thus far. The articles, 
published separately over a period of years, are largely occasional 
in character and represent a variety of aspects of the general 
enterprise. The controversial chapters reflect the widespread 
interest in such problems as the existence of specific human 
instincts, the doctrines of behaviorism and psychoanalysis, and 
the book by Pareto, whose views were promoted by an enthusias- 



tic group with almost the fervor of a cult. The conflicting 
doctrines of race have also occasioned spirited debate among us. 
It is hoped, however, that the reader will find in the negative 
statements on points of view that are rejected some affirmative 
and positive implications. 

There are other chapters devoted to specific problems in 
theoretical social psychology in an effort to make a contribution 
to the problems that were and are still current. Several dis- 
cussions are included which attempt to make a concrete applica- 
tion of the principles adopted to specific situations in education, 
religion, and race relations. 

The ethnological chapters are based on a residence of seven 
years among the Forest Bantu in a village which is now a suburb 
of Coquilhatville, the capital of the Equatorial Province in the 
Belgian Congo. Thirty years afterward, opportunity was 
afforded for a brief field trip to the same region, and I have 
attempted to record some of the theoretical implications of the 
changes that have taken place. 

Some of the most conspicuous inconsistencies have been altered, 
due to the changes in my own thinking that have taken place 
within the span of years during which the various portions of 
this work first saw publication. Others have been allowed to 
remain, and some have doubtless escaped attention. But it is 
hoped that a certain consistency may appear and that some 
contribution is made toward the achievement of a task which 
can be accomplished only over a period of many years and by 
the combined efforts of many men. 

If an effort were made to present a systematic social psychol- 
ogy, it would be a difficult thing to do. Indeed, an attempt to do 
so now would, if honestly and intelligently made, acknowledge 
many gaps in our knowledge and many problems still unsolved. 
It is something, perhaps, to aid in presenting a point of view 
from which discussions can start and on which evidence can be 
sought. Even though we are not in the possession of an impres- 
sive body of laws in this field of scientific endeavor, yet we have 
a series of postulates whose utility is promising. It is hoped that 
these postulates will be found implicit in the text of this book, 
and some of them are overtly propounded. But in the interest 
of clarity it may be permitted to list here a few of the more 


The following are, therefore, presented as postulates not as 
demonstrated conclusions but as postulates, assumptions, which 
should serve to guide investigation and to direct attention to the 
relevant facts so that the assumptions may be confirmed, dis- 
proved, or modified. 

The reality of culture. The collective habits have produced 
uniformities of speech, thought, and conduct which form a body 
of phenomena with laws of its own. 

The priority of culture. With respect to the members of a 
group, the cultural habits and forms are pre-existing, so that the 
most important aspects of a given person are to be traced back to 
influences existing in the culture into which he comes. 

The inertia of culture. Slow unnoticed changes in a culture 
may be noted but these are relatively unimportant. Culture 
tends to produce itself indefinitely. 

Culture is a phenomenon of nature. Language, manners, 
morals, and social organization grow up within the ongoing 
activity in the effort of a group to maintain itself, to secure food, 
and to rear children. The human animal differs from all other 
animals and has a different nature, but he is nevertheless an 
animal. He is a very wonderful animal one who talks, thinks, 
aspires, and sacrifices, but still an animal. 

The actions of men are prior to their thinking. Reasoning is 
an attempt to overcome the difficulties that impede action. 

Imagination is, therefore, a phase of events, moving from possi- 
bilities to eventualities. The plot of a body of conspirators is 
an integral part of the assassination. A wish is the beginning of 
an act. Many acts that begin are never finished. 

A human being is a being which has a self. No other animals 
have selves. A self is a subject which is its own object. The 
human being who stimulates others also stimulates himself, and 
this makes it possible to think of himself as he thinks of another. 
('Personality is relative to groups. Personality is a sort of 
dramatic role, a part that is played with reference to a social 
grouping. It can be understood only in social terms.} 

An organized personality consists of tendencies to modes of 
action. Character is such an organization of these tendencies 
that others can depend on a man's future activity and count on 
his behavior. These tendencies are called attitudes, and atti- 
tudes are acquired within the process of social living. 


The object of education is the production of approved and 
useful habits and attitudes. An adequate knowledge of the 
way in which attitudes come into existence would result in 
revolutionary changes in the methods of education. 

The differing cultures of mankind can be understood, appre- 
ciated, and adequately dealt with when social psychology or some 
other science with the same objective can solve the problems 
regarding the origin and nature of cultural formulations and 
cultural changes. 

Conflicts between nations, races, classes, and sects must be 
regarded as problems demanding solution which an adequate 
science of human nature should make it possible to understand. 
An adequate social psychology would furnish a program which 
would enable us to know what can be cured and how soon, and 
what must be endured and for how long. 

And finally, values. Values are the objects of the most impor- 
tant of our wishes. Values are non-rational in origin, but so also 
are all the acts and wishes of man. But just as the minor 
desires of men are modified when reflective thought compares 
them with their competitors, so values, the objects of the highest 
of our desires, would seem to be susceptible to rational reformula- 
tion. Values unopposed present no problem. But values in 
conflict with other values present an occasion for that dramatic 
rehearsal of future consequences which we call reasoning. As 
our interests enlarge, we are able to take account of larger and 
larger wholes. The age of humanity may be still in the future, 
but we have been accustomed for many years to speak of a world 
community. Machine guns form the alternative to reason in 
determining which values shall prevail. An adequate science of 
human nature would enable us to find a better way. 

The foregoing list of postulates could be greatly enlarged, but 
it is long enough, perhaps, to serve the present purpose. An 
objective science does not concern itself immediately with welfare. 
In order to be efficient it must be disinterested. But science, or 
knowledge, is always in the service of ends, and the ultimate 
justification of science, certainly the science of human nature, 
will be the service it can render to human welfare. 

The business of man is to seek good ends; intelligence is the 
instrument for making the quests effective; and science is the 
effort to perfect the instrument and to make it adequate. 




Human nature is a very paradoxical term. On the one hand 
it is the culprit explaining, if not justifying, acts that are wicked 
and lapses that are weak. When our priests and pastors are 
disappointed in us, human nature is our alibi. It nullifies the 
work of pacifists and prohibitionists, and might almost be defined 
as that with which fanatical reformers fail to reckon. On the 
other hand, human nature is sometimes a beautiful discovery 
and a pleasant surprise. When queer, fierce, and savage folk 
act in a comprehensible fashion, we call them human as an 
honorific ascription. When human nature was discovered in 
the slaves, it led ineluctably to their emancipation. Seen in 
the untouchables of India, it is at this moment in process of 
raising their status. To find them human is good and leads 
men to praise and draw nearr 

In the attempt to sharpen the denotation of the term it is 
proposed to consider : how the experience of human nature arises ; 
some obstacles to its realization; the relation of heredity to 
heritage; with a briefer mention of the mutability of human 
nature and the problem of individuality. 

There is, then, first of all, this question: How did you and I get 
to be human, and how do others come to seem to be human? 
Every careful reader of Cooley and Mead has long been familiar 
with a clear answer to the first part of the question. One's 
consciousness of oneself arises within a social situation as a 
result of the way in which one's actions and gestures are defined 
by the actions and gestures of others. We not only judge our- 
selves by others, but we literally judge that we are selves as the 
result of what others do and say. We become human, to our- 
selves, when we are met and answered, opposed and blamed, 
praised and encouraged. The process is mediate, not immediate. 
It is the result of the activity of the constructive imagination, 
which is still the best term by which to denote the redintegrative 



behavior in which there is a present symbol with a past reference 
and a future consequence. 

The process results in a more or less consistent picture of how 
we appear, the specific content of which is found in the previously 
experienced social gestures. Not that all men treat us alike. 
It is trite to say that we have many selves but it is profoundly 
true, and these are as many as the persons with whom we have 
social relations. If Babbit be husband, father, vestryman, school 
trustee, rotarian, and clandestine lover he obviously plays several 
different roles. (These roles, or personalities, or phases of his 
personality, are built up into a more or less consistent picture of 
how one appears in the eyes of others.^ We are conscious of 
ourselves if, when, and only when, we are conscious that we are 
acting like another. These roles are differently evaluated. 
Some have a high, others a low, rating, and one's comparative 
estimation of the worth of his membership in his several groups 
has a social explanation, in spite of the fact that many would 
seek a physiological explanation. 

As banker or realtor Babbit may stand high, though as a 
golfer he may be a dub ; his church status may be low and his club 
self high, and so through the list. The movements, vocabulary, 
habits, and emotions he employs in these different roles are all 
accessible to careful study and accurate record, but the point can 
hardly be obvious, since it is so widely neglected that the explana- 
tion of these habits and phrases and gestures that accompany the 
several roles is to be sought chiefly in the study of the group tradi- 
tions and social expectations of the several institutions where he 
belongs. No accessible inventory of his infantile impulses would 
enable the prediction of the various behavior complexes concerned 
in the several personal roles. Moreover, whatever the list of per- 
sonalities or roles may be, there is always room for one more and, 
indeed, for many more. When war comes Babbit will probably 
be a member of the committee of public defense. He may become 
executive officer of a law enforcement league yet to be formed. 
He may divorce his wife or elope with his stenographer or misuse 
the mails and become a federal prisoner in Leavenworth. Each 
experience will mean a new role with new personal attitudes and 
a new axiological conception of himself. 

One's conception of oneself is, therefore, the result of an 
imagined construct of a role in a social group depending upon 


the defining gestures of others and involving in the most 
diverse types of personality the same physiological mechanisms 
and organs. Both convict and pillar of society, churchman and 
patron of bootleggers, employ receptors such as eyes, ears, and 
nose, and effectors including arms, legs, and tongue. The way 
in which these are organized is, however, only to be investigated 
by studying the collective aspects of behavior. Your person- 
ality, as you conceive it, results from the defining movements 
of others. 

And if this be true, it is a fortiori certain that our conception of 
other selves is likewise a social resultant. The meaning of the 
other's acts and gestures is put together into an imagined unity 
of organization which is our experience or conception of what the 
other one is. In Cooley's phrase, the solid facts of social life are 
the imaginations we construct of persons. It is not the blood 
and bones of my friend that I think of when I recall him as such. 
It is rather the imagined responses which I can summon as the 
result of my experience with him. Should misunderstandings 
arise and friendship be shattered, his nervous organization and 
blood count would probably remain unaltered, though to me he 
would be an utterly different person. Whether he be my friend 
or my enemy depends axiologically upon my imagination con- 
cerning him. In order to deal with this material we must 
imagine imaginations. 

The ability to conceive of human nature thus always involves 
the ability to take the role of another in imagination and to dis- 
cover in this manner qualities that we recognize in ourselves. We 
regard as inhuman or non-human all conduct which is so strange 
that we cannot readily imagine ourselves engaging in it. We 
speak of inhuman cruelty when atrocities are so hard-heartedly 
cruel that we cannot conceive of ourselves as inflicting them. 
We speak of inhuman stupidity if the action is so far remote 
from intelligent behavior that we feel entirely foreign to it. And 
conversely, in the behavior of non-human animals and, in extreme 
cases, with regard to plants and even inanimate objects, there is 
a tendency to attribute unreflectively human motives and 
feelings. This accounts for the voluminous literature of the 
"nature fakers." To sympathize with the appealing eyes of a 
pet dog, or the dying look of a sick cat, or to view the last gasps 
of a slain deer is to have just this experience. Wheeler, a fore- 


most authority on the behavior of insects, writes of " awareness" 
of the difference between her eggs on the part of a mother wasp, 
and of the "interest " that other insects take in the welfare of their 
progeny. The fables and animal stories of primitive and of 
civilized peoples could not have been spoken but for this tend- 
ency of our imagination to attribute human qualities when 
some behavior gives a clue of similarity to our own inner life. 
Examples of this process could be indefinitely cited, from St. 
Francis preaching sermons to his "brother wolf" and to the birds, 
the romantic poets who speak to the dawn and get messages from 
the waves, the lover whose pathetic fallacy sees impatience in the 
drooping of the rose when Maud is late to her tryst, all the way to 
Opal, who loved the fir tree because he had an "understanding 
soul." The experience is entirely normal. The most unromantic 
mechanist may, in emotional moments, be carried unreflectively 
into an unwitting and immediate attribution of human impulses 
and motives to non-human objects. 

Human nature is, therefore, that quality which we attribute 
to others as the result of introspective behavior. There is 
involved a certain revival of our own past, with its hopes, fears, 
loves, angers, and other subjective experiences which, in an 
immediate and unreflective way, we read into the behavior of 
another. The German concept einfuhlung y while not exactly 
the same notion, includes the process here denoted. It is more 
than sympathy; it is "empathy." 

Now the process wherein this takes place is primarily emo- 
tional. The mechanism is operative in all real art. In our 
modern life the drama and the novel are largely responsible for 
the broadening of our sympathies and the enlarging of our 
axiological fraternities. There is some plausibility to the 
disturbing remark of a colleague of the writer who declared that 
one can learn more about human nature today from literature 
than from science, so called. If federal regulation continues to 
increase, it might be well to pass a law forcing all parents of small 
children to read The Way of All Flesh. Books on criminology 
are valuable, but so is The House of the Dead. Culprits, offenders, 
and violators of our code are human, but in order that we may 
realize the fact it is necessary for us to see their behavior pre- 
sented concretely so that we can understand and, understanding, 


forgive. " There, but for the grace of God, goes John Wesley." 
Perhaps you and I might have been murderers. 

There is a curious, and at first, puzzling, difference in the 
attitude of two groups of specialists concerning the nature and the 
mental capacity of preliterate, or so-called "primitive," peoples. 
The anthropologists and sociologists of the present day are almost 
unanimous in their opinion that so-called "savages" do not differ 
in their mental capacity or emotional possibility from modern 
civilized peoples, taken by and large and as a whole. Con- 
temporary biologists, on the other hand, are in many cases very 
reluctant to admit this, and many of them categorically and 
insistently deny it. Now it cannot be the result of logical con- 
clusions from research methods of scientific men in the case of 
the biologists, for their work is confined chiefly to anatomical 
structures and the physiology of segments. Their conclusions 
arise from other than focal interests. 

On the face of it the situation is curious. The biologist has 
long ago demonstrated the surprisingly essential identity of the 
nervous system in all mammals. The rat or the dog is almost as 
useful for the vivisectional investigation of the human nervous 
system as a human subject would be. Element for element, the 
nervous system of the sheep is the same as in man, the differences 
being quantitative. A fortiori, the nervous systems of the 
Eskimo and the German are not significantly different. The 
biologist works with identical material but concludes by assuming 
great and significant differences between the different races. 
The anthropologist and sociologist works with strongly con- 
trasted phenomena. He discusses and studies polyandry, 
witchcraft, and shamanism, socially approved infanticide, and 
cannibalism, and such divergent practices that one would expect 
him to posit much greater differences than even his biologist 
colleague would assert. An investigator from Mars (one may 
always invoke this disinterested witness) would probably expect 
the biologist who studies identical forms to be inclined to rate 
them all alike, and might infer that the anthropologist who studies 
such divergent customs would place them in a contrasting series. 

The explanation seems fairly apparent. The biologist deals 
objectively, thinking in terms of dissections and physical struc- 
tures. The anthropologist deals sympathetically and imagina- 


lively. His work takes him into the field where he gets behind 
the divergencies and finds that the objects of his study have pride, 
love, fear, curiosity, and the other human qualities which he 
recognizes in himself, the differences being only in the form and 
expression. Thus, by an introspective sympathy, he comes to 
know them as human. 

The limitations of introspective psychology need no elabora- 
tion in these days when extreme behaviorism has thrown out the 
infant with the bath. The uncontrolled exaggerations that arose 
out of the unverifiable imaginings of introspectionists brought 
about a violent reaction not wholly undeserved. It is not pro- 
posed here to make even a disguised plea for introspective 
methods. The essential point is not the desirability, but the 
inevitability, of just this type of imagination by which alone we 
recognize others as human, and which ultimately rests on 
our ability to identify in others what we know to be true in 

Imaginative sympathy enables us to recognize human nature 
when we see it and even to assume it where it is not. Conversely, 
when the behavior is so different that we lack the introspective 
clue, we find difficulty in calling it human. Such limitation is 
more true of our emotional moments than of calm and reflective 
periods. Recent questionings on race prejudice reveal the fact 
that, in the American group which was investigated, the most 
violent race prejudice, the greatest social distance, existed in 
respect of the Turks. It was further revealed that most of those 
who felt a strong aversion against Turks had never seen a Turk, 
but they had heard and read and believed stories of their behavior 
which account for the attitude. One story describes Turkish 
soldiers stripping a captured pregnant woman, betting on the 
sex of the foetus, and disembowelling her to see who should win 
the money. Such conduct we call inhuman, since we cannot 
imagine ourselves as engaging in it under any circumstances. 
If we are to regard all members of the genus homo as human, it 
is essential that the traditions of all races and their mores be 
sufficiently like our own to enable us to understand them sympa- 
thetically. It is easy to show that Americans who go to Turkey 
and understand the Turks not only find them human, but often 
praise and admire them. And all because the empathic imagina- 
tion enables us to play their part and understand their motives. 


The chief limitation to the imaginative sympathy enabling us 
to call others human is the phenomenon which Sumner calls 
ethnocentrism. By an extension of the term, which is here 
presented with a plea for indulgence, we may distinguish three 
types of ethnocentrism which are, in effect, three degrees of the 
phenomenon. Ethnocentrism, as ordinarily used, is the emo- 
tional attitude which places high value on one's own customs and 
traditions and belittles all others, rating as least valuable those 
that differ most. The universality of ethnocentrism is evidenced 
from the discovery that all preliterate peoples who have con- 
sidered the question have worked out the answer in the same 
terms. It is obvious to a Nordic that the African and the 
Mongol are inferior to himself, and hardly less obvious that the 
Mediterranean is intermediate between his own highness and 
the low-browed tribes of the tropic forests. But for more than 
a generation it has been familiar to specialists that Eskimos, 
Zulus, and Pueblos have exactly the same feeling toward us. 
The customs with which we are familiar are best. Mores which 
differ most widely arise from the social life of an inferior people. 
We are supremely human ; they are only partially so. To Herbert 
Spencer the high-headed and proud-hearted Kaffirs who would 
in their turn have spoken contemptuously of his bald head and 
his helplessness in the forest were intermediate between the 
chimpanzee and the English. They were only partly human. 
The writer of these lines once made what he felt to be a very good 
speech to an audience of naked savages, speaking in their own 
tongue with certain native proverbs and allusions to their folk- 
tales. The reward for this skill was the frank and surprised 
admission that at least one white man was intelligent and could 
make a decent argument like any other human being. The 
Texas farmers whose province had been invaded by an agri- 
cultural colony of Bohemians used to refer to them as hardly 
human since their women worked in the fields and often the whole 
family went barefooted. Ethnocentric narrowness envelops the 
group in a sympathy-proof tegument which blinds men to the 
human qualities of differing peoples. 

The second form of ethnocentrism is harder to establish but 
must be asserted. It is seen in its quintessence in the writings of 
McDougall and his followers. Human nature consists of instincts 
and if a list of these be called for they are promptly produced. 


The instinct of warfare is axiomatic and the proof is found in 
the military history of our people. But the list of instincts 
turns out to be merely a renaming and hypostatization of our 
own social customs. The instincts have been set down in a fixed 
list because men failed to distinguish between their immediate 
social heritage and the inborn tendencies of their infants. It is 
therefore a kind of scientific ethnocentrism, which conceives as 
native and human that which is acquired and social and leads to 
the conclusion that those with widely different customs must 
either have some instinct omitted from their repertory, as 
McDougall plainly says of some of the interior Borneo tribes, or 
else (and this comes to the same thing) they have these instincts 
in a different degree from those which we have received from our 
forebears; that is to say, the customs of other people, if they are 
sufficiently different, are due to the fact that their nature is not 
quite like ours. They are really not quite human, or, to say the 
least, differently human. 

The third variety of ethnocentrism is somewhat more subtle. 
It is the limitation due to language. It is the penalty for having 
to speak in one language without knowledge of the others. The 
dreary list of sentiments, feelings, and emotions in some books is 
written as if all the words in the world were English words. We 
make sharp distinctions between fear, terror, and awe and, for- 
getting that these are limited to our vocabulary, expect to find 
the fundamental traits of human nature adequately described 
thereby. If we read German we may become interested in the 
distinction between Mut and Tapferkeit. Not knowing Japanese, 
we lose the precious insight which their idioms would give us in 
the inability of their language to make a neuter noun the subject 
of a transitive verb. A statement by a most eminent psycholo- 
gist is concerned with a discussion of "what emotions do" and 
"what intelligence does," in the behavior of human beings. No 
Japanese would make such an egregious blunder not necessarily 
because of different capacity for analysis, but because his mother- 
tongue is incapable of such erroneous metaphysical reification. 
Linguistic ethnocentrism, if we may so name this, would disap- 
pear if our minds were competent and our years enough to allow 
us to know all the languages of the earth; but until utopia comes, 
the handicap can be partly overcome by a conscious recognition 
of its existence and by an obstinate and repeated attempt to get 


outside of the limitations of our own etymology into a sympa- 
thetic appreciation of the forms of speech of stranger men. 

Ethnocentrism, then, is essentially narrowness. It is enthusi- 
asm for our own, due to ignorance of others. It is an apprecia- 
tion of what we have and a depreciation of what differs. It is 
essentially a lack of sympathetic dramatization of the point of 
view of another. It must be transcended if we are really to 
know what protean varieties human nature may assume. 

From the question of how human nature is recognized there 
is a natural transition to the problem of how it is constituted. 
The current form of most interest is an old problem still exciting 
lively interest; the relation of inherited tendencies to social 
organization; the relation of instincts to institutions; heredity, 
to environment; nature, to nurture. 

Current discussions of instinct reveal surprising initial agree- 
ments among authors who seem to be, and who imagine themselves 
to be, very different. Allport rejects instincts and McDougall 
has a fixed list (subject to periodical revision), yet both Allport 
and McDougall agree in making an uncriticized assumption that 
the customs and institutions of men are the outgrowth of the 
infantile and adolescent inherited impulses. Thus warfare is 
ascribed to the instinct of pugnacity, to which statement Allport 
objects and asserts that it is rather due to the conditioning of the 
prepotent reflex of struggling. It would be easy to make a long 
list of citations, but at random one may mention Parker, Trotter, 
and Bartlett. To such men the key to the understanding lies 
in an adequate genetic psychology. If we could only get at the 
infant and chart all his initial responses and impulses, they feel 
the problem of social organization would be solved. 

This chapter is written under the conviction that sociology 
and social psychology must rely chiefly on facts from the col- 
lective life of societies for their material. Two fields of inquiry, 
among many others, can be cited as providing relevant material. 
One is the study of preliterate peoples and the other is the con- 
sideration of modern isolated religious groups. There is found 
among primitive people such a protean variety of social and 
cultural organization, including such various forms of religious, 
political, and family life, that it would seem impossible to account 
for them on the basis of definite instincts. When one society 
refuses entirely to produce children, another tribe kills all unbe- 


trothed girls, still another practices cannibalism, eating their 
own infants, while yet others manifest tender solicitude for all 
their children, and when unto these are added accounts of bizarre 
marriage customs and religious conceptions and tendencies, it is 
hard to see how the conception can be carried through without 
assuming different instincts in each tribe. 

The isolated religious sects of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries are even more valuable to the theorist since the com- 
plete history of many of the customs is known, an advantage not 
possessed by the ethnologist as a rule. It is possible to describe 
in detail a time when there were no Quakers, Dunkers, Mor- 
mons, Shakers, or Perfectionists. The rise of polygamy can be 
traced in Mormonism, and the abandonment of the marriage 
relation among the Shakers can be dated and described. 

McDougall has seen this difficulty and has met it with a 
certain naivet6. He has only to assume that strikingly different 
customs have been produced by peoples with differing instincts, 
or with instincts of different degrees of strength or intensity. 
The Shakers would, therefore, be adequately explained by assum- 
ing a selection of people who had no sex instincts, or very weak 
ones. The peaceful tribes would be those lacking the instinct of 
pugnacity, which leads him to the logical conclusion that the 
French have a different instinct from the English, and to the 
popular psychology which gives to the Anglo-Saxon the instinct 
for representative government, an instinct which the Italians 
and Orientals are assumed to lack. 

Thus the assumption that instincts produce customs turns out 
to be a mere tautology, and the human race disappears as a bio- 
logical species. A zoologist who describes the migrating salmon 
or the breeding habits of seals or the incubating instincts of 
penguins is dealing with a single species whose members exhibit 
a universality of action. But if this formulation of instincts be 
followed out, every tribe or race must be assumed to have differ- 
ent instincts, and the basic error of the whole instinct psychology 
stands revealed. Then instinct merely becomes another name 
for custom. 

Were all our knowledge of human nature limited to a single 
flash of information through a given moment of time, it might be 
impossible to criticize this serious error. Fortunately, there is 
history. The Mormons began without polygamy, lived through 


a long period when plural marriage was customary, and then, 
through the stress of circumstances, abolished the practice. The 
English colonies have circled the earth, while the French remain 
at home drinking in the caf 6s of Paris, but there was a time when 
the French colonies occupied vast territories in the New World, 
and there is ample evidence of a considerable settlement of French 
both in Canada and Louisiana. The warlike Nordics dreamed 
of a heaven of warfare and slaughter, but when Norway seceded 
from Sweden something went wrong with their fighting instinct 
and, obstinately enough, they settled the matter by a peaceable 
arrangement. If customs change, and they do, and if instincts 
cause customs, then instincts change as often as the customs. 
But a changing instinct is no instinct, for instincts by hypothesis 
are constant. 

The problem of social origins is not solved, but the history of 
many customs and institutions is in our possession and it is quite 
certain that the whole concatenation of unique and unrepeated 
circumstances must be invoked to explain the creation of any one 
of them. And when once the organization appears, the new 
members of the group who grow up within it or who are initiated 
into it take on the group attitudes as representations collectives, 
securing all their fundamental satisfactions in ways which the 
group prescribes. The true order, then, lies in exactly the reverse 
of the instinct-to-institution formulation. Instead of the 
instincts of individuals being the cause of our customs and institu- 
tions, it is far truer to say it is the customs and institutions which 
explain the individual behavior so long called instinctive. 
Instincts do not create customs. Customs create instincts, for 
the putative instincts of human beings are always learned and 
never native. 

Exactly when human nature begins is a problem. But that it 
does, in each individual, have a definite beginning is an axiom. 
The newborn has not a developed personality. He has neither 
wishes, desires, nor ambitions. He does not dream of angels nor 
think the long thoughts of youth. He acquires a personality. 
He does not acquire his heredity. He acquires his personality. 
A quarter of a century ago this acquisition was shown by Cooley 
to happen in the first groups, the primary groups, into which 
he is received. He becomes a person when, and because, others 
are emotional toward him. He can become a person when he 


reaches that period, not always exactly datable, when the power 
of imagination enables him to reconstruct the past and build an 
image of himself and others. 

An inescapable corollary of the foregoing is the mutability of 
human nature. Despite the chauvinists, the cynics, and the 
absolutists of every sort, human nature can be changed. Indeed, 
if one speaks with rigorous exactness, human nature never 
ceases to be altered; for the crises in life and nature, the inter- 
action and diffusion of exotic cultures, and the varying tempera- 
ments possessed by -the troops of continuously appearing and 
gradually begotten children force the conclusion that human 
nature is in a continual state of flux. We cannot change it by 
passing a law, nor by a magical act of the will, nor by ordering 
and forbidding, nor by day-dreaming and revery, but human 
nature can be changed. To defend militarism on the ground 
that man is a fighter and the fighting instinct cannot be changed 
is merely to misinterpret and to rationalize an important fact; 
that the custom of warfare is very old and can be abolished only 
gradually and with great difficulty. To assume that the drinking 
habits of a people or their economic structure or even the family 
organization is immutably founded upon the fixed patterns of 
human nature is to confuse nature and custom. What we call the 
stable elements of human nature are in truth the social attitudes 
of individual persons, which in turn are the subjective aspects 
of long-established group attitudes whose inertia must be reck- 
oned with but whose mutability cannot be denied. Having been 
established through a long period of time, and appearing to the 
youth as normal and natural, they seem to be a part of the ordered 
universe. In reality they are continually being slightly altered 
and may at any time be profoundly modified by a sufficiently 
serious crisis in the life of the group. 

The history of social movements is but a record of changing 
human nature. The antislavery movement, the woman's move- 
ment, the temperance movement, the interestingly differing 
youth movements in Germany, China, and America these are 
all natural phenomena in the field of sociology, and are perhaps 
most accurately described as the process of change which human 
nature undergoes in response to the pressure of unwelcome 
events giving rise to restlessness and vague discontent. Such 
movements, when they generate leaders and develop institutions 


passing on to legal and political changes, create profound altera- 
tions of the mores and thoroughly transform not only the habits 
of a people and their nature as they live together but also the 
basic conception of what constitutes human nature. The present 
conception in the West of the nature of woman, including her 
mental capacity and ability to do independent creative work, 
is profoundly different from the conception which anybody 
entertained in the generations before the woman's movement 

But for the limitations of space, the problem of individuality 
and character should receive extended treatment in this discus- 
sion. That being impossible, a brief word must suffice. There 
is so much of controversy concerning the question, and so much 
of confusion, that many seem to be hypnotized by mere phrases. 
It is much too simple to say that the individual and society are 
one, for it is difficult to know which one. The heretic, the rebel, 
the martyr, the criminal these all stand out as individuals 
surely not at one with society. Nor does it seem adequate 
merely to say that the person is an individual who has status in a 
group. For it does not appear that before the acquisition of 
status the individual has any existence. Certainly if he has, he 
does not know it. The conception which it would be profitable 
to develop lies in the direction of the assumption that out of 
multiple social relations which clash and conflict in one's experi- 
ence the phenomenon of individuality appears. The claims of 
the various social groups and relations and obligations made on a 
single person must be umpired and arbitrated, and here appears 
the phenomenon of conscience and that of will. The arbitrament 
results in a more or less complete organization and ordering of 
the differing roles, and this organization of the subjective social 
attitudes is perhaps the clearest conception of what we call 
character. When viewed from the outside, the struggles of the 
tempted and the strivings of courageous men appear to be 
the pull of inconsistent groups, and so indeed they are. But 
to you and me who fight and hold on, who struggle amid dis- 
couragement and difficulties, there is always a feeling that the 
decision is personal and individual. Someone has been the 
umpire. When the mother says, "Come into the house," and 
Romeo whispers, "Come out onto the balcony," it is Romeo 
who prevails, but it is Juliet who decides. 


From one standpoint, then, individuality may be thought of as 
character, which is the subjective aspect of the world the indi- 
vidual lives in. The influences are social influences, but they 
differ in strength and importance. When completely ordered 
and organized with the conflicting claims of family, friends, 
clubs, business, patriotism, religion, art, and science all ordered, 
adjudicated, and unified, we have not passed out of the realm of 
social influence, but we have not remained where the social 
group, taken separately, can be invoked to explain the behavior. 
Individuality is a synthesis and ordering of these multitudinous 

Here human nature reaches its ultimate development. Hen- 
ley, lying weak and sick, suffering great pain, called out that he 
was captain of his soul. To trace back the social antecedents of 
such a heroic attitude is profitable and germane, but it is never 
the whole story until we have contemplated this unique soul 
absolutely unduplicated anywhere in the universe the result, if 
you like, of a thousand social influences, but still undubitably 
individual. It was Henley who uttered that cry. That you 
and I so recognize him and appreciate him only means that we 
also have striven. We know him and understand him because 
of our own constructive, sympathetic imagination. HQ who 
admires a masterpiece has a right to say, I also am an artist. 



The doctrine of evolution which dominated the latter part of 
the nineteenth century affected every field of scientific thought 
from ichthyology to folklore. It was inevitable that psychology 
should be profoundly influenced by it. This was seen first in the 
rise of physiological psychology, which, leaving to one side the 
notion of a substantial soul, considered man as an animal and 
set out to find what connection could be discovered between the 
body of this animal and the sensations, feelings, and thoughts 
experienced in the mind. Laboratories were first set up by 
physiologists, turned psychologists, and a series of brilliant 
researches rewarded the increasing company of workers in the 

It was at length possible to state with confidence the "end- 
organ" responsible for each sensory experience, and to trace 
every nervous impulse to its terminus. The goal was to find 
the exact structure involved in each experienced sensation and 
feeling, to analyze both mental and physiological into ultimate 
elements, and thus to show in detail just how the body was 
essential to the operation of the mind. 

Important as all this work was, it gave little light to those who 
sought an answer to the questions which most interest students 
of human nature. The need to direct the training of children, 
the counseling with the distressed and the anxious, the under- 
standing of a youth in love or of a man suffering the pangs of 
remorse these characteristically human problems received no 
illumination from the "pure science " which physiological psychol- 
ogy became. Aristotle believed that the brain was a gland which 
cooled the blood, but the discovery of the true function of the 
brain made little difference for the more vital problems. 

Physiological psychology is still a pursuit of scientific dignity 
and has not ceased to engage the attention of careful and exact 
scholars. But the questions which it was hoped to answer came 



to be investigated by other methods when it was thought neces- 
sary to try to pay the debt to society which every department 
of abstract science incurs. When America entered the World 
War, our greatest experimental psychologist refused to join his 
colleagues in their efforts to apply psychology to the military 
needs of the nation, declaring that there was nothing of practical 
value in what he had done. 

The evolutionary view, meanwhile, led to another movement in 
psychology, first explicitly set forth in its full implications by 
William James. This was the emphasis on specific instincts 
which not only emphasized the animal nature of man but found 
the basic elements of human life in definite drives that were 
assumed to be inherited from sub-human sources. This approach 
was far more promising and offered a comprehension of the emo- 
tional drives and non-rational urges which the older formulation 
had been unable to give. The instincts were proposed as the 
explanation of the collective life and the institutions of men. 
They were not, indeed, conceived of as unalterable, for they 
could be sublimated; but they were both elemental and elemen- 
tary and held high promise of affording the key which men had 
long sought. The vogue of this formulation spread rapidly and 
for a whole generation was unchallenged. 

But just as individual differences rendered the earlier physio- 
logical statement unsatisfactory, so social facts in their variety 
made it difficult to carry out the conception of separate human 
instincts, inherited from the lower animals and uniform in the 
race. Ethnology revealed an amazing variety of customs and 
folkways that would require the denial of some instincts to some 
of the groups studied, while historical comparisons yielded similar 
inconsistencies in the case of civilized peoples. Many scholars 
came to the conclusion that the inherited tendencies were far 
greater in number than anyone had imagined but that the definite 
and specific character had been overstated, and especially that 
the complicated chains which some of the lower animals seem to 
inherit could not be found in man. 

The studies of culture which anthropologists proceeded to make 
with admirable industry eventually led to a new view of the 
relation of man to his institutions. The primordial origin of 
human culture is a problem to the solution of which it is impos- 
sible to bring any facts. Sociology is in the same position on this 


point as that in which biology finds itself with respect to the 
problem of the origin of life. And just as the biologist came at 
last to utter the dictum: all life comes from the living, so the 
student of culture declares: Omnis cultura ex cultura. And if all 
culture comes from antecedent culture, then no culture comes 
from the operation of the instinctive activities of individuals. 
There are, for example, no organs of speech. Lungs, vocal cords, 
teeth, tongue, and lips are not only present in animals without 
speech but in man each has its own function and speech is the 
result of their use for a purpose added. For speech is not an 
individual phenomenon. Language is communication and is the 
product of interaction in a society. Grammars are not con- 
trived, vocabularies were not invented, and the semantic changes 
in language take place without the awareness of those in whose 
mouths the process is going on. This is a super-individual 
phenomenon and so also are other characteristic aspects of 
human life, such as changes in fashions or alterations of the 

Herbert Spencer called these collective phenomena super- 
organic; Durkheim referred to them as fails sociaux; Sumner 
spoke of them as folkways; while anthropologists usually employ 
the word " culture." These and the other terms reveal the need 
for the isolation of that aspect of human conduct and experience 
which is impersonal and which appears as an influence external 
to the individual person, attributable to no other individual, 
but determinative and formative with respect to the organization 
of his life. 

That the concept is a fruitful one needs no argument, in view 
of the many existing studies of the culture of unlettered tribes 
and the enthusiastic work that is being carried on with increasing 
energy. It has been possible to mark out on the map the 
boundaries of the various cultures of the North American 
Indians, and Wissler has so delimited the " culture areas" of 
the whole Western continent. Thus culture is a thing in the 
logical sense. It can be defined, investigated, analyzed, and 
compared in its different manifestations. The culture is inti- 
mately related to the economic life so that those who hunted the 
buffalo had a different culture from the tribes who lived chiefly 
on salmon, and these in turn varied largely from the sedentary 
tribes whose chief reliance was on agriculture. 


For a long time it was thought that the concept of evolution 
would offer great help in interpreting the cultured differences 
which characterized the hundreds of tribes of preliterates. The 
doctrine of distinct stages of savagery, followed by equally 
definite stages of barbarism and succeeded in turn by stages of 
civilization, was advocated and elaborated till it broke down of 
its own weight. The early assumption that each people pursued 
their upward way owing to some irresistible tendency to rise 
and progress was able to take care of the facts regarding stranded 
peoples who, for some reason, had halted on the march or even 
might have gone backward. It was not so easy, however, to 
account for the conflicting and contradictory elements or " com- 
plexes" of culture on the assumption of an evolutionary scheme. 
To cite one example: the mining and forging of iron meant a 
high rating in the scale, while a system of writing indicated a 
greater advance. Yet the North American Indians had the 
beginning of writing and the Mayas a highly developed system. 
And at the same time, they used stone tools, while the Bantu 
tribes of the rain forest lived in some instances without clothing, 
utterly lacking any acquaintance with picture writing, at the 
same time being highly skilled in the mining, smelting, and forging 
of iron tools and weapons. The use of stone tools located the 
Americans in the Stone Age, far lower in evolution than the age 
of metals, while the use of writing placed them very high in the 
scale. The naked Africans could claim a high rating on account 
of their knowledge of iron but were low in social organization and 
in many other achievements which they should have possessed 
according to any tenable theory of the evolution of culture. 

There were many other difficulties that arose in the effort 
to make this scheme apply to the facts discovered in the field. 
The economic life was assumed to be determinative of the forms 
of social organization and the development of the religious rites 
and ideas. But when polyandry was described among the 
hunting tribes of the Eskimo, the pastoral Todas in India, and 
the agricultural peoples of Tibet, it was impossible to make the 
earlier assumptions fit the facts. 

Explicit in the earlier formulations and implicit in the others 
was the premise that a gradual improvement in mental capacity 
must have taken place in order to account for the transition from 
the " lower" to the " higher" forms of cultural achievement. 


And this seems necessary if we are to believe that the forms of 
collective life are the result of the efforts and achievements of 
individuals. The only logical alternative seems to be to deny 
the initial assertion and to attempt to account for culture as the 
result of the impersonal results of association. 

The study of the introduction of inventions and discoveries 
from one tribe to another was the beginning of the end of the 
older evolutionary formulation. A tribe using the bow and 
arrow with skill and success, knowing how to make and use the 
weapon as well as any other people, has usually not contained 
within its membership the originator of the device, but possesses 
it because it was " diffused" from another and neighboring people 
who, in turn, have received it from another source, and so on 
through a long series of relays. It was not the lack of ability to 
make or use bows that had prevented their earlier appearance 
but the fact that no one had happened to hit upon such a con- 
trivance. And why anyone ever did hit upon such a device is so 
difficult a question that no answer has ever been forthcoming. 
Alphabetical writing is a good illustration. Bantu children, 
learning to write and to read a language strictly phonetic, manage 
the task in a much shorter time than European children, who 
must continue the illogical spelling of the past. The ability of 
the Bantus to master writing and reading is unquestioned but 
because their opportunity to do so was lacking, they remained 
preliterate for thousands of years. Alphabetical writing was 
invented only once and from the small area where it started it 
has "diffused" to all peoples who know letters. It is not tenable 
to say that the Greeks were inferior to the Phoenicians from whom 
they received the alphabet or that the English were lower in the 
scale of mental development than the Roman missionaries who 
brought writing to the British Isles. 

Considerations of this character lend importance to the concept 
of communication and contact between bearers of different 
cultures and suggest that the backwardness of primitives lies 
chiefly in their isolation. Homogeneous cultures into which 
no single element has been introduced or diffused are probably 
not to be found on the earth today, certainly they are extremely 
few. Borrowing is the rule, not the exception, and for nearly 
all it is true that only a very small proportion of any culture is 
autochthonous. The peoples of lower culture are those who 


have been situated outside of the route along which the bearers 
of new things have traveled or who have fled to remote spots, 
where they remained cut off. In West Africa, in the watershed 
between the Nile and the Congo, in parts of California, and else- 
where, there are areas which are occupied by small, unrelated 
tribes speaking many different languages, each group having 
been driven into its particular area in former years by the advance 
of some militant tribe. These peoples are usually of a low, 
simple culture, easily explained by their linguistic and spatial 

Acculturation, borrowing, diffusion, communication, contact 
words like these seem to be much more appropriate and serve to 
designate the causal influences that are responsible for the great 
differences between one tribe and another. The assumption that 
the normal process is one of advance and improvement due to an 
evolutionary tendency upward is, therefore, seriously to be 
questioned. A population composed of gifted people with the 
ability to learn and to carry on the activities of a highly developed 
culture may, nevertheless, remain on a low level of development 
for an indefinite period. 

Instead of the older view that every culture tends always to 
become higher and to develop more and more advanced forms, 
it would seem that we could more reasonably assume the principle 
of cultural inertia, which would view the culture as tending to 
reproduce itself by reason of its own momentum, once it has been 
definitely established and organized. This view would regard 
cultural change as everywhere a problem to be investigated. 
Contacts with other cultures are, no doubt, the most valuable 
as explanations, but any crisis which changes or interrupts 
collective habits will prove significant. Famine, drouth, pesti- 
lence, and other catastrophes in nature will be found important 
events to be considered in accounting for cultural change, though 
it may be doubted whether the result of these is an improvement 
or an advance. The usual effect is a loss, though the issue rests 
on facts to be revealed in concrete studies. 

It is not easy to make this position convincing to the modern 
mind, which has been so long used to the idea of progress and 
which has, at least in the realm of material culture, become 
accustomed to a civilization that has acquired a " habit of chang- 
ing habits" until the marvelous advance of the past two hundred 


years, with its increasing tempo of change, seems to suggest that 
such inventiveness is an inseparable aspect of all human culture. 
But the idea of progress is not old. It was unknown to the 
ancients and quite foreign to the minds of the men of the middle 
age. The particular and unprecedented set of circumstances 
which brought about the industrial revolution, itself not unin- 
fluenced by the great crises following the period of discovery 
and exploration, prepared men's minds for the prophesy of an 
indefinite improvement in life and its conditions. And when 
the notion of evolution was widely accepted, the doctrine of 
progress became a substitute for the earlier views of a divine 
providence. It was only a corollary of this main theorem to 
hold that all tribes and races had been engaged in a gradual and 
continuous development from a low state of mentality to a 
higher, producing, pari passu, a culture which corresponded to 
the mental ability of those who bore it. 

But if we abandon the position which holds the capacity of 
the members of a society to be determinative of the richness of 
their culture and if we question the dictum that the temperament 
of the tribesmen determines whether the tribe be warlike or 
peaceful, we are led to quite another view of the relation of the 
personality and the culture. Leaving out the question of the 
reorganization following a critical breakup in which case a new 
type of culture may be expected to appear it is tenable to 
assume that the culture of a people is the determining factor 
and that the personalities who grow up within it are its subjective 

There is a saying that each man has two lines of ancestors, 
the parents and forebears from whom by heredity the body comes, 
and the " spiritual " line from whom by social heritage we derive 
our souls. In a primitive isolated group the two would coincide, 
but in a complex and mixed society, and particularly in a world 
where books abound, they may be in essential conflict. It is 
by association and communication that the language, the habits 
of thought and of action, and the view of the world that is 
necessary to an organized life may be acquired. 

It is possible, and for research purposes valuable, to consider 
culture objectively. The theology of a religious sect is collective, 
impersonal, traditional and can be stated in its origin and devel- 
opment in terms as objective as any description of a natural 


phenomenon. But no theology exists without adherents who 
are its bearers, and there are subjective aspects of the beliefs 
that are not included in any objective formulation. And when 
the objective forms are subjected to strains that indicate a 
process of alteration, it is the subjective aspect which may first 
be seen to vary. The belief may still be accepted and the forms 
may still be observed, but the meaning may be altered and the 
inner experience, modified. The incipient changes in a culture 
may, therefore, be discovered earliest in the personalities which 
form its subjective aspect. 

Unquestioned elements of a culture tend to assume the aspect 
of natural phenomena. Old forms of belief and action seem to 
be almost laws of nature and not products of human association. 
Thus Kant defended the expiatory theory of punishment by an 
appeal to the universal conscience. Let everyone examine him- 
self, he said, and he will immediately realize that in his own heart 
is the conviction that suffering ought to be inflicted for guilt. 
This is the moral law within, equaled in majesty only by the 
starry heavens above. It is timeless and so has no history; it is 
axiomatic and a priori and therefore not the product of human 
experience or human contriving. No one could remember a 
time when the doctrine was questioned and, therefore, it was 
assumed that it had no beginning. 

We now know that punishment does have a history and that 
to this day tribes do exist who have not developed the institution. 
The axiomatic character of the conviction only meant that the 
view was so old that no one questioned it. The common sense 
of one generation may be the new discoveries of a former age. 

The irresistible cultural forms are called by writers of the 
Durkheim school representations collectives, which we might 
translate " group ideas/' It is the mark of these group or col- 
lective ideas that they are communicated in an emotional manner 
and become an almost ineradicable conviction, resisting logical 
or reasonable efforts to contradict or disprove them. In the 
phrase of L6vy-Bruhl the individual is impermeable to experience, 
that is, to his individual experience, if the collective idea is in 
question. These collective products are given to the children 
when they are plastic and uncritical, and they are powerless to 
resist. Argument and demonstration may be externally plausible 
and sound in logic, but the inner conviction remains as a sort of 


"acquired instinct/' to be dislodged, if at all, only by another 
collective representation belonging to another cultural formula- 
tion when the individual has, to some degree, left his own. 

This phenomenon is not confined to magical and religious ideas 
and practices, though the greater part of the illustrations have 
been taken from these fields. The French sociologists were 
more interested in primitive people and have collected a great 
number of clearly illustrative cases and instances of the inability 
of the individual to surrender his conviction, when confronted 
by objective fact, because the representation collective was 
infallibly true. But it is not alone among primitive people 
that examples of the operation of this principle may be found. 
Magical beliefs, surviving as superstitions among civilized men 
are far from obselete among us and tend to live in every depart- 
ment of our life which has not been reduced to scientific formula- 
tion. The religious and theological beliefs follow the primitive 
formula in strict parallel. The beliefs are given to the very 
young in an atmosphere of impressive and emotional emphasis. 
They are accepted without question and, if well impressed, remain 
as permanent elements in the personality. Not only so, but 
they assume the character of axioms, of self-evident truths or 
the results of intuitive insights which were always "known," never 
taught, and belong to the realm of timeless truth the opposite of 
which is unthinkable. The reasoning of a Fundamentalist or a 
Catholic theologian rests on premises of this character. But the 
reasoning of a Confucian scholar starts in a different way, for 
Confucius was not concerned with rewards and punishments after 
death and advised his disciples first to learn about life and after 
that to try to understand death. He taught them not to give 
thought to heaven or spirits till they had first understood the 
earth and man. The Chinese scholar, therefore, fails to find 
within his own mind the theistic and supernatural ideas that to 
the Christian are so basic. 

Just how the two cultures came to be so fundamentally different 
is the task of the historian of culture to discover, and attempts 
to make the statement are not lacking. But the point of the 
argument here is that the two sorts of personalities are to be 
understood as the products of two contrasting cultures. The 
value or lack of value in the thirst for God which the Christian 
feels is not in question here. The point is that the deepest 


yearnings of the soul are yearnings that have been culturally 
inherited and are not to be considered as innate. In order that 
the experience may come to the individual he must have some 
influence transmitted to him from the culture. 

There is a uniqueness in the character of much of our experi- 
ence which obscures the truth of the statement just made. In 
those views which have been held from the earliest conscious 
years there is no recollection of the source from which they were 
received or of the time when they were adopted. They seem, 
therefore, to be self-initiated and autonomous, appearing as 
instinctive and intuitive. They are the moral axioms, the self- 
evident truths, the law written on the fleshly tablet of the heart. 
A social origin is difficult to trace and is therefore denied. 

But the practice of training and instruction in religion and 
morals seems never to be consistent with the denial of the cultural 
priority. Even where the knowledge of God is held to be intui- 
tive, there is careful thought for the religious instruction of the 
young. The intuitive knowledge may be asserted as a precept, 
but the very view that it is intuitive is carefully taught and 
fostered. Nor is direct and specific precept the only or the chief 
reliance, since the ceremonial government and the participation 
in rites and customs is, itself, an educative influence of great 
power. A child in a group will, in the very nature of childhood, 
tend to take on the ways of the group, and the only problem for 
the sociologist is found in the attempt to understand why and 
under what conditions there is resistance and non-conformity. 

There are many means of communication besides speech which 
serve to transmit the cultural forms of a people. The impressive 
architecture of a church, with the richness of its decorated altar, 
is not only an esthetic object; it is a message and a lesson to be 
learned, all the more effective because inarticulate and therefore 
not of the nature of logic. The glorification of childhood and 
infancy, with corresponding sentiments of " pathos" about 
motherhood, which is so integral a part of our tradition is due in 
a great degree, difficult to measure but undeniable, to the paint- 
ings, statues, poetry, and music that have grown up around the 
theme. Such art is, of course, effect as well as cause, but its 
function in transmitting the tradition to the young is apparent. 
The war monuments and memorials, statues and portraits of the 
great men of a people, as well as the poems and songs that empha- 


size or glorify some incident or period of the past these are but 
silent voices speaking to young and old, but especially to the 
young, in emotional phrases that cannot be contradicted and 
that serve to fashion the personalities in accord with the dominant 

The members of a group are not identical. No two are alike, 
for the life of a group consists not in identity but in organization. 
Age differences and sex differences are the most striking, but 
differences in strength, in speed of movement, and in every 
analyzable aspect of human activity are to be assumed. The 
culture does not act like a mechanical mold on plastic material, 
for the member of a culture acquires its essence by action, 
appropriating and modifying what he sees and hears. But 
though no two voices are exactly alike and though each can be 
recognized by a hearer sufficiently familiar with it, yet the speech 
itself is a cultural form and the manner of speech is the subjective 
aspect of an objective whole. 

The sociology of the leader enforces the truth that personality 
is the subjective aspect of culture. For the leader in any field 
of social life is both cause and effect. He is different from the 
others and so is trusted and followed, but his power lies in his 
ability to offer to lead in a direction in which men wish to go or to 
resolve a difficulty for which no other one has so good a solution. 
He must have confidence in the success of his plan and in this 
respect may differ greatly from those who are hesitant, doubtful, 
or despairing. No one can lead who does not contribute to the 
morale of his group, giving them a certain readiness for action 
and a measure of assurance of success. The leader differs from 
the others in several important respects and is the source of 
thought and action, necessary to take into account in the explana- 
tion of social change. 

But the leader is also the product of the life of his people and 
may be considered as a sort of device for the sake of the life of a 
group. What the leader desires and does has come from the 
people who produced him or harbored him. If his program 
makes no appeal, his leadership is repudiated and his status is 
lost. The military ability of the Mongol leaders who invaded 
Europe, the remarkable phenomenon of the first crusade, and 
the influence of William Penn among the Quakers, not to speak 
of contemporary leaders of pacifism, fascism, and the rest these 


all reveal, on examination, the correspondence of the program 
of the leader with the will and desire of the people whose culture 
he expresses. 

The leader shows how to obtain what his people want but do 
not know how to get. He knows how to envisage and describe a 
goal that others only dimly conceive. He gives expression to 
thoughts that others recognize as true, which they have vaguely 
felt but which they cannot ever quite formulate, and he is 
literally a product of the life and times that nourished him. 

During the World War it was spoken as a taunt against the 
Germans that other nations were proud of their great men but 
that the Germans were proud of themselves for producing Luther. 
Excessive pride is always offensive but, sympathetically under- 
stood, there is appropriateness in both attitudes. We can be 
proud of our great men for to them we owe the programs and the 
formulations that enable us to carry on, but we may be allowed, 
also, to be proud of America for producing Washington and 
Lincoln for they, as shining examples of what was praised and 
valued, expressed the national life. It was only the Elizabethan 
age that could have produced Shakespeare, only Puritan England 
that could have given birth to Milton. Shelley spoke for men 
saddened after the political reaction, no less than Franklin 
expressed the thrifty common sense of a people growing pros- 
perous in a new land. 

For the culture may be said to have moods, so that the words 
heeded by one age will not stir the listeners who have changed 
the focus of attention. Many a time a leader has lost his power 
with startling suddenness. He no longer represents his people, 
and they cast him aside. The usual formula in speaking of this 
is a reference to the fickleness of the mob. But, since personality 
is the subjective aspect of culture and since every leader is the 
expression of the life and thought of his people, he is ever depend- 
ent on the masses and cannot hope to be followed when he 
presents that which they do not desire. If a people rear up one 
to lead them to the desired haven, they are not to be blamed for 
deserting when he seems to have lost his way. They turn from 
him and repudiate him and seek one who gives promise of 

In order that a leader may succeed he must have a united 
following. This means that there is like-mindedness, which 


enables the people to unite. In times of great disorganization 
the cultural unity is broken up and then leadership seems to be 
impossible. The older psychology, which began with individual- 
ism and thought of the leader as a sort of genius with a mystic 
power of prestige that compelled assent and loyalty, was at a loss 
to account for his appearance or his peculiarities. A confused 
people need a leader, but there is nothing they can do till he 
appears as a sort of gift of Heaven. If China is in disorder there 
is no hope till a leader appears, and eventually he will appear, so 
says the theory. But it is here suggested that this is reversing 
the order. A disordered and disorganized people cannot have a 
leader. Leadership is impossible in a faction-torn society. At 
most, there can be leaders of rival factions, and China had these 
in plenty. Lincoln was never the leader of the whole people, 
only of the stronger section. He is honored by all sections now, 
for the mind of the nation has become changed and united. The 
leader is a choice sample of the life of his people. 

That personality is the subjective aspect of culture appears in 
the consideration of the man who partakes of more than one 
heritage. Members of this group, to which Park has given the 
designation of "marginal men," include those of mixed bloods, 
such as Mulattoes, Eurasians, Anglo-Indians, and other effects 
of miscegenation. Such a personality develops on the border- 
land of two traditions which compete within him and divide him. 
He belongs in a sense to both cultures and is unable to feel com- 
pletely at home in either one. The mother tongue is not the same 
as the language of the father or, if there is no linguistic difficulty, 
the same division appears in other aspects of the culture. Such a 
person lives where two traditions meet and, because the per- 
sonality is the subjective aspect of the culture, they meet in him 
and divide his soul. 

The same is true of the immigrant who lives in an immigrant 
group in America, subjected at the same time to Americanizing 
influences in the public school and elsewhere. The sociology of 
the Jews also is similar for, with the religious tradition of endo- 
gamy, the in-group life is treasured while economic and other 
interests give a partial membership in the majority group. The 
result is a divided soul, with conflicts and personality strains 
reproducing in the individual the massive struggles which are 
taking place in the collectivity. 


That the marginal man is a social and not a biological resultant 
is seen by reference to those individuals who, with no supporting 
group, are assimilated in isolation from their own people into a 
culture different from that of the parents. For the marginal man 
may not be of mixed blood at all. In Africa there are detribalized 
natives who have been educated according to Western standards 
and therefore do not feel at home in the old associations of their 
people, yet they are not fully accepted by the European group 
whose ways they have adopted. Negro graduates of Scottish 
medical schools who have returned to South Africa after some 
years of absence from home find themselves on the margin of two 
cultures and unable to be fully adjusted in either one. It is not 
the biological fact of heredity that is determinative of the sort of 
personality, but the taking over of the language and ways of 
thinking and doing. The subjective aspect of culture becomes 
disorganizing, or at least disturbing, when there are two cultures 
which are conflicting or confusing in their demands. 

The question of the relation of the individual to society can be 
stated in a form which is meaningless and resembles the inquiry 
about the priority of the hen and the egg. But in the case of any 
individual person whom we may ever wish to understand it is a 
question with an obvious answer. For every human being is 
born into a society already organized and established. The 
cultural forms, the language, beliefs, and customs are far older 
than the child. There is a society into which we are born and the 
personality is the organization into a definite role, or part, to 
play within that organization. To understand a man from rural 
France and to know how he differs from a farmer in Szechwan, 
it is chiefly necessary to know the cultural forms within which the 
two lives developed. 

Since every human culture is related to the land on which 
the members of each group live, it has been found highly useful 
to take account of the area in dealing with problems of per- 
sonality. Inside the metropolitan limits of the great modern 
cities the "ecological areas/' as they are sometimes called, are 
peopled by groups, often by immigrants, in which the customs 
and traditions differ so much from those of the older and more 
settled districts that there is at least a statistical presumption of 
a very different type of personality being found in that area. 
Sometimes a tradition of juvenile delinquency gets itself estab- 


lished to such a degree that practically all the boys in the area are 
guilty, at some time or other, of infractions of the law infractions 
which may even become traditional till the boys resemble in their 
attitude toward the law of property the criminal tribes in India, 
who devote their whole lives and energies to predatory activities. 
The criminal tribes in India perform religious rites before setting 
out on their major expeditions and have no more scruples against 
what the government calls crime than has a soldier who embarks 
for Somaliland to fight the Abyssinians. In the case of the city 
boy there is always a certain minimum of attention that must 
be paid to the dominant mores, but there are areas in Chicago 
where this attention is decidedly marginal. The tradition gets 
established, the small children look up to the older boys whose 
exciting adventures become a legend, and so they look forward to 
a career of approved delinquency. 

Whether the different races have innately different tempera- 
ments is a question too difficult for our present information. 
That some are warlike and others peaceful, some very religious 
and others much less so, and that other striking differences exist 
this is a statement impossible to doubt. But the changes 
which take place in the descendants of the same stock render 
tenable the view that even the temperamental aspects of the life 
of a people are culturally determined. Whether this is true or 
not, the tendency of the members of a group with little contact 
outside of the membership to take over and perpetuate even these 
qualities is, as we have tried to show in this discussion, a fact of 
primary importance. 

We may think of personality as an acquisition. Human nature 
is not to be ascribed to the newborn. Language, religion, desires, 
and ambitions, and all the organization of the life are culturally 
transmitted, not to a passive absorber of the culture, but to an 
acting being whose perceptions are defined and whose role is 
determined by what is said and done to him and by the responses 
that are made to what he says and does. Thus, the whole is 
greater than the parts and precedes the parts. The whole even 
creates the parts, as the cultural unit encourages those aspects 
which are consistent with it and attempts tc eliminate what 
seems to be undesirable. 


The concept of primary group, while perhaps not the most 
important contribution of C. H. Cooley, may be the one for which 
he will be longest remembered. Others had spoken of the 
"we-group" and of the "in-group," but " primary group" is a 
happier phrase. In such groups, Cooley asserted, are to be found 
the very origins of human nature. The concept was coined at 
the right time and has been approved by the only effective 
authority, that of widespread quotation and continued use. 
The well-known passage reads: 

By primary groups I mean those characterized by intimate face-to- 
face association and cooperation. They are primary in several senses, 
but chiefly in that they are fundamental in forming the social nature 
and ideals of the individual. The result of intimate association, 
psychologically, is a certain fusion of individualities in a common whole, 
so that one's very self, for many purposes at least, is the common life 
and purpose of the group. Perhaps the simplest way of describing this 
wholeness is by saying that it is a "we"; it involves the sort of sympathy 
and mutual identification for which "we" is the natural expression. 
One lives in the feeling of the whole and finds the chief aims of his will 
in that feeling. 1 

There appear to be three properties of the primary group 
expressed or implied in this statement: the face-to-face relation, 
the temporal priority in experience, and the feeling of the whole 
as expressed by "we." The importance of the primary group, 
as he later shows, is that human nature arises in it, and from it the 
human virtues of sympathy, kindness, justice, and fair play can 
be shown to originate. 

The use of the conception raised certain difficulties. There 
was no terminology provided for the groups not primary; and 
many writers came to speak of "secondary groups," some authors 
actually putting these words into the mouth of Cooley though he 

1 Social Organization, 1909, p. 23. 



nowhere uses the term. 1 The tendency has been to consider 
secondary groups as those which depend for communication on 
indirect media, such as newspapers. 

A more serious question concerns the exact denotation of the 
concept. Attention was fixed on the face-to-face criterion to the 
neglect of the other differentia, and many now use the term as 
applying only to those who are physically present in the group 
relation. Implied has been the criterion of temporal priority 
which would limit primary groups to children, since adults have 
long ago lost connection with their first groups. The psycho- 
logical criterion has received relatively little emphasis. There is 
value in a careful inquiry into the exact and definite qualities 
which mark off these groups from other groups. 

The schoolmen made a distinction between the essence and the 
accident. The accident may define a concrete denoted object 
whose essence does not disappear when the accident is not present. 
Your table may be square and oaken, but being square and being 
made of oak are not essential to its being a table, and hence they 
are called accidents. It would be a table if round or oval or if 
made of maple or steel. The essential properties of a table can 
be stated in a careful definition, giving genus and differentia; but 
only error results from confusing accident and essence. 

How essential to the definition of a primary group is the prop- 
erty face-to-face? Are all face-to-face groups primary groups? 
Are any groups primary groups where the relations are not face- 
to-face? Or is the face-to-face relation an accident? Similar 
questions arise concerning the temporal priority implied in the 
words, though in usage these have occasioned only minor 

There are groups to be described at the extreme of the series of 
which there appears to be no doubt. An American criminal 
court, with judge, jury, defendant, and counsel, are in a face-to- 
face nearness with none of the essential properties of the primary 
group as set forth in the quotation and the other passages in which 
Cooley uses his concept. For the court is externally controlled 
and governed by rules made by absent and ancient authorities. 
The actions are essentially institutional in character. A legis- 
lative body, even when small, or a board of directors with formal 

1 Even von Wiese and Becker do this as late as 1932. See Systematic 
Sociology, p. 225. 


procedures, may be cited. A primary group may be as small as 
two, but an unwelcome bond salesman in your office does not 
necessarily mean that you and he form a primary group. Nor 
would a delinquent student summoned into the office of his dean 
form with that official such a group. Without multiplying 
instances it may, then, be assumed that not all face-to-face 
groups are in essence primary groups. 

But do any groups not face-to-face have the properties of the 
primary group? There is reason to think so. A kinship group 
widely scattered in space, communicating only by letter, may be 
characterized by a common feeling of unity, exhibit "a certain 
fusion of individualities in a common whole," and be accurately 
classed as a primary group. A woman student has recorded an 
experience in which she "fell in love" with a woman author, 
wrote long letters to her, and was influenced by her profoundly 
and for many years, although the two had not ever seen each 
other at the time the account was written. Was not this a 
primary group? Historic friendships like that of Emerson and 
Carlyle did not rest on physical presence, nor indeed so originate. 
Comrades in a cause, if there is esprit de corps, often form primary 
groups independent of spatial separation. These seem to be 
genuine primary groups. 

The problem, then, is whether primary group is a spatial 
concept or whether other criteria must be sought. This inquiry 
will lead us to a more fundamental question: the validity of the 
group concept itself. Is a group a mere aggregation of 
individuals and therefore a mere name, or does it denote 
specific sociological things to be defined, classified, and 

The differences of opinion on this issue are old and familiar, and 
no solution of the problem is attempted here. A clear statement 
of the point of view can be made and should be kept in mind by 
any who may wish to profit by this discussion. The word 
"group" is used by some writers to indicate merely the aggregate 
of the individuals which make it up. This is the proper usage 
which statistics employs. The ages of divorced persons can be 
grouped into classes, averages figured, and relations with other 
aspects calculated. Such a group is a mere collection of units, 
and the averages are abstract symbols denoting the generalized 
character of these units. But the sociological group involves 


consensus, concert, communication. The statistical group exists 
for the statistician; the sociological group exists for its members. 
In the former the individuals constitute the group; in the latter 
the group makes its members. The vigorous attack on the group 
concept which Allport and others have made seems to neglect 
this distinction. The reader will find a discussion of those oppos- 
ing views easy of access. 1 

I should like to raise the further question of the degree to which 
a sociological group can be defined in strictly objective terms. 
To what extent is a group to be called objective, and to what 
degree must subjective attitudes and images be assumed as 
essential? Is the sociological group an experience, an organi- 
zation of experiences? A primary group may, indeed, be 
described by an onlooker after observing movements and sounds; 
but he may be only interpreting the symptoms, leaving the very 
essence of the group life unnoticed, or else misinterpreting what 
he has seen and heard. Strictly behavioristic accounts of group 
life cannot take account of what the members of the group feel 
or think. 

"The sort of mutual identification and sympathy for which 
'we' is the natural expression," suggests that Cooley did not 
mean to make the face-to-face relation the essence and sine qua 
non of the primary group. And if the primary group is char- 
acterized by the "we-feeling," we must look to subjective criteria 
and cannot depend wholly on mere observation, externally 
attempted. The appeal must be to experience and not confined 
to behavior. 

Behaviorism is professed by many who do not accept the 
extreme forms of the statement. There are left-wing behavior- 
ists, right-wing behaviorists, and those who occupy the center. 
But it would be accurate to characterize all forms of behaviorism 
as motivated by a desire to be objective. There is a tendency to 
minimize and sometimes to deny the importance of the inner 
subjective aspects of experience. Left-wing behaviorists deny 
the very existence of consciousness, but even right-wing members 
of this school seek to phrase their facts in terms of movements 
that can be observed. Only thus, do they feel, can we have an 
objective science. 

1 See "Group and Institution/ 1 in BURGESS, Personality and the Social 
Group, Chicago, 1929, pp. 162-180. 


Cooley saw things differently. Since the movements of our 
muscles, when we glow with pride or long for friends, offer no set 
pattern, he insisted on the importance of the imagination and the 
feelings. When a man falls in love or "gets religion/' the nervous 
currents are so inaccessible compared with the images and 
feelings and resultant attitudes that he considered these latter 
facts as basic and central. Those who know their Cooley will 
recall his bold statement that the solid facts of social life are the 
facts of the imagination. My friend is best defined as what I 
imagine he will do and say to me on occasion. Cooley taught 
that to understand human nature we must imagine imaginations. 
In his last book he quotes Holmes as saying that when John and 
Tom meet there are six persons present. There is John's real 
self (known only to his Maker), John's idea of himself, and 
John's idea of Tom, and, of course, three corresponding Toms. 
Cooley goes on to say that there are really twelve or more, includ- 
ing John's idea of Tom's idea of John's idea of Tom. And if this 
be thought a fanciful refinement, he insists that a misconception 
of this last type, when Germany made a fateful decision, was 
possibly the reason she lost the war. In these " echoes of echoes 
of echoes" of personality we have an a fortiori consideration of 
the importance of the subjective aspect of conduct. 

Whether Cooley be correctly interpreted as meaning that the 
primary group is defined in essence as characterized by a certain 
kind of feeling is a matter of literary exegesis. The consider- 
ations advanced indicate this to be the logical conclusion. If 
there is group consciousness, esprit de corps a feeling of " we " 
then we have a primary group which will manifest attitudes and 
behavior appropriate and recognizable. The face-to-face posi- 
tion is a mere accident. Groups of friends and neighbors form 
primary groups, but the essential quality may be present in 
groups where spatial contiguity is lacking. The Woman's 
International League for Peace and Freedom has some hundreds 
of idealistic pacifists scattered over the world, most of whom 
have never seen each other. But they are comrades in the cause, 
are conscious of an enveloping sense of the whole group, think 
and speak and feel in terms of "we," and answer the definition 
of a primary group. We have shown, on the other hand, that 
many face-to-face groups lack this quality. 


If our reasoning is sound, it follows that not every family is a 
primary group and that a school group may or may not be so 
defined. A domestic tyrant with commands, threats, and 
punishments may conceivably assemble his subjects around a 
table thrice daily in a group that lacks the essential qualities of the 
primary group. Likewise, a teacher may sometimes be the leader 
of a primary group; but one who has alienated the children may 
be hated or may be treated abstractly as a mere outsider and 
functionary in a company where there is no feeling of "we" and 
thus no primary group. 

The correlative of the primary group is not a group whose mem- 
bers are separated or one where the communication is by indirect 
media. Rather is the primary group to be contrasted with the 
formal, the impersonal, the institutional. Its importance con- 
sists in the fact that primary relations give rise to the essentially 
human experiences, so that human nature may be said to be 
created in primary group relations. The more completely the 
relations are mechanized, the more fractional the contacts become 
and the less effective in generating the sentiments which are 
distinctly human. If children in home and school are to be made 
to participate in the culture of their people, it is necessary that 
the home and school be primary groups, and the mere fact that 
they meet face-to-face with the members of the family or the 
school system is not sufficient to give it the essential character. 

This is not to say that the primary group is a value concept and 
therefore superior to other types of groups. Human institutions 
are erected to meet human needs, and these needs may some- 
times be better satisfied by institutions than by primary group 
relations. Indeed, primary group relations may intrude in a 
disorganizing manner, as when a police officer refuses to arrest a 
man because he is a friend. Here belong much of the corruption, 
bribery, nepotism, and "graft" of our modern life. Formal and 
institutional groups cannot perform their function unless the 
distinction between them and the primary group be kept with 
scrupulous clarity. Moreover, there is no sharp dividing line 
between the two clear types. There are marginal cases and 
transitional forms, and critical experiences can alter either or 
both of them; but there need be no vagueness if the essential 
qualities of each be accurately stated. 


If the argument so far is sound, we now see that the primary 
group can be destroyed, utterly destroyed, even though face-to- 
face relations continue. This is more frequently observed in 
family disruptions but can be observed in other types of primary 
groups. Former intimate relations may become purely formal, 
even legal, relying on fixed forms or external regulations. In the 
primary group one does more or less what he pleases; in institu- 
tions one follows the rules. In congenial, intimate friendship 
there can be no set regulations, no set formulas; for in this rela- 
tion life is free-flowing, spontaneous, and interpenetrating. 
Friendship has never built an institution, nor can it, for the 
primary group withers and dies in an atmosphere of legality. 
Formal and external relations are different. Men stand on their 
rights, appeal to authorities, declare the motion out of order, 
insist on the sum nominated in the bond, sue for the terms of 
the contract. 

Thus a primary group is at once more and less than an assem- 
blage of people. An assembly may become united in an exalted 
moment till every member is aglow with the consciousness of the 
whole, but such a consciousness is also possible, as we have shown, 
when distance intervenes. It may be unilateral, just as unre- 
quited love may be. But the experience is real, describable, and 
very important. Moody, in " Gloucester Moors," wrote of 
drinking in the beauty while he thought of his brethren in the 
city, oppressed in body, mind, and purse; and he said: 

Who has given me this sweet 
And given my brother dust to eat? 

And it would seem untenable to deny the reality and impor- 
tance of this momentary expression of a lifelong identification 
with a whole class which characterized the life of this poet. 

So-called " secondary contacts " have nothing to do with the 
case. Contacts by letter, printed journal, book, telegraph, 
telephone, radio, may have any quality from an abstract promul- 
gation of a harsh law to a throbbing message which unites and 
intensifies a bond between comrades. Even in large and 
scattered groups particularly those we call "social movements " 
the struggle for liberty, freedom, justice, or any great cause 
may call into existence the very experiences and relations which 
we are able to find in the primary group. 


That Cooley so held is clear in his statement that democracy 
and Christianity are the outgrowth of the primary group and are 
its ultimate expression and flower. It is clear from his discussion 
that he did not mean the institutions, for the church is not 
Christianity, nor is democracy the same as the state. But, if 
conceived ideally, Christianity is expressed in love, sympathy, 
and loyalty by those who consider themselves members of an 
encompassing whole of which they are part and in which "we" 
is the golden word. The attitude and feeling are the essence; the 
space and position are but accidents. 

Human life is essentially dramatic. Personality arises as, and 
because, we play roles in our social intercourse. The process of 
reflection in which we define for ourselves the meaning of what we 
have said and what others have said and done to us is also a 
dramatic event. We become conscious of ourselves when we 
realize that we are acting like another. Our personality is shaped 
by the definition of our acts which we receive from others. We 
respond to them in our imagination and build up not only our 
virtues and vices but the awareness of them. And here arises the 
transcendent importance of the primary group. Only in the 
primary-group relation is this type of influence directly effective 
and positively formative. Strictly mechanical relations approxi- 
mate absent-mindedness, hostile relations tend to generate 
opposing attitudes, but in the primary group the seeds of a culture 
live and bear fruit. And the group is a relation between mem- 
bers, not an aggregation of units. The sociological group can 
be described only by references to the experiences of its members. 

The considerations advanced have been essentially theoretical; 
but there are practical applications of the theory, as, indeed, there 
are of all theories. For the primary group, with its looseness of 
organization and its free-flowing influence, being the matrix in 
which human nature takes form, the type of control that char- 
acterizes the primary group is uniquely its own. The family 
has always been considered the essential type of a primary 
group, and yet it has been shown that the family belongs in this 
category only when there is a certain type of organization present. 
It is possible to trace the political and governmental patterns of 
control within the historical period as they have come into the 
family relationship. The patriarchal family, with a benevolent 
despot or a malevolent one, who is at the same time lawgiver, 


judge, jury, and executioner, is not the original form of the 
family; and indeed contemporaneous families all over the pre- 
literate world can be found where this particular type of control 
and relationship is absent. When the pseudo-political forms 
have been imported into the family, it no longer retains its essen- 
tial character as a primary group. The control is to some degree 
transferred from this particular locus to other groups into which 
the children can find their way. The family has lasting influence 
over its members in the degree in which it retains its character 
as a primary group. It loses its essential type of control when, 
through ignorance of this particular principle, another type of 
control is substituted. 

Entirely analogous phenomena may be observed in our 
American schools. The kindergarten as it is now conducted is 
essentially a primary group, with the types of control and of 
relationships such as have been described. The same thing can 
be said of the very earliest grades, but tradition has decreed that, 
as the child matures, the essentially informal type of control 
shall be superseded by one more definitely institutional, with the 
result that the attitudes and ideals which the teacher is set to 
transmit often fail more or less completely to be derived from that 
particular source. Any objective examinations of the high 
schools in America at the present day will bear out this statement 
and illustrate this principle. The opinions, the standards, and 
the ideals of the teachers are transmitted to the students of the 
high schools only to a fractional degree, and it is the contention 
here that the explanation lies in the loss of the essential nature of 
the primary-group relation in the traditional type of control 
which the high school has adopted. What happens is a matter 
of common observation and universal knowledge. The adoles- 
cents seek and form primary groups of their own which have a 
definite isolation from their elders. Primary groups ranging 
from little circles of friends to definitely predatory boys' gangs 
illustrate again the principle we have here set forth. From the 
point of view of the mental hygiene of children and adolescents, 
what parents and teachers need to do is to "go to school to the 
gang" and learn what their methods are; and when this instruc- 
tion has been well profited by, it will be found that the control 
of the gang is essentially the control of the primary group and 
that the school and home have lost the essential character of it. 


We cannot fully describe the primary group by concentrating 
all our attention upon harmony and intimate personal relations, 
for these have their most intense manifestations when they are 
contrasted with the hostility and conflict of other similar groups 
which give esprit de corps and unity and are the occasion of morale 
in the primary group. The hostile group is not the opposite of 
the primary group; it is, to a certain extent, the condition of its 
existence. If there were only one primary group, there would 
not be any at all, because group consciousness only occurs over 
against the consciousness of another contrasting or opposing 
group. Hostility and loyalty, then, are two aspects of a definite 
relation, and the essential character of the primary group must 
be sought in its free-flowing, unrestricted character. 

It is, as we have shown, in the institution that we find the 
essential opposite of the primary group, where the forms are fixed, 
the rules prescribed, the offices laid down, and the duties set 
forth with definite clarity and relative inflexibility. The person 
is no longer acting freely but is acting in aft office, performing a 
definite institutional function. When an institution operates in 
its typical character, the functionary manifests a minimum of 
personal relations. An institution might almost be defined as a 
social device to make emotion unnecessary. But the primary 
group has as an essential element in it the emotional character 
which binds its members into a relation. 

The nature of the primary group, then, lies not in its parts but 
in its organization. It depends not upon its spatial contiguity 
but upon its functional interrelation. It can be described neither 
by statistical enumeration nor by spatial measurement. More 
is involved than separate elements. In addition to space there 
is also time. The primary group cannot exist without memories; 
it cannot endure without purposes. No mechanical or spatial 
description is adequate. It is a changing organization of func- 
tional activities tending toward an end, influenced by its past 
and guided by its purposes and its future. It is not a mechan- 
ism; it is a part of life. 


Social origins have rested so far chiefly on a foundation of 
ethnology. Primitive peoples were assumed to represent earlier 
stages of the life which we are living, and from Comte and Spencer 
till now men have sought to answer fundamental questions about 
our own religion, morals, art, and economy by collecting facts 
regarding savages. But the results have been disappointingly 
meager. The ultimate origin of any of our basic activities is 
lost in the unrecorded past. The answer to the question of 
origins which seemed at first to be promised by ethnography has 
actually been sought by an appeal to psychology, and since the 
psychology of primitive man is a matter of inference, the net 
result of nearly a hundred years of writing is little more than a 
collection of theories of the origin of institutions, not one of which 
can be disproved, but each one of which is unproved and indeed 
unprovable. The curtain rises in the middle of the drama 
sometimes, indeed, toward the end of the last act and the proc- 
ess by means of which the past has been reconstructed differs 
in no essential respect from the most primitive of mythologies. 

There exists a contemporary phenomenon, relatively neglected, 
which offers brighter promise of success. The religious sect, and 
particularly the modern isolated sect, has advantages for the 
student which ethnography does not afford. In many cases the 
whole history is accessible, since the date can be found when 
the sect was not dreamed of and the whole evolution can be 
traced. If sociologists cared to give the same careful and detailed 
study to the foot-washing of the Dunkers or the dancing of the 
Shakers as they do to the totem dances of the Australians or the 
taboos of the Bantus, the material would be found to be not only 
equally interesting but in all probability more fruitful. 

The religious sect is a valuable field for the study of sociology 
as distinguished from social psychology, since it furnishes a body 
of facts concerning the rise of institutions. The current notions 



of the origin of institutions include the theory that they developed 
from a fixed set of instincts, the theory that they are determined 
by the geographic environment, and the theory that the whole 
phenomenon arises out of the conditioning of the infantile 
reflexes. Now, psychology is very important and there are many 
problems which are essentially psychological, but the sociology of 
institutions can be studied without positing any foundation of 
psychology, and it needs no more depend on psychology than on 
astronomy or geology. There are questions to be answered, 
facts that can be gathered, hypotheses that can be tested, and 
conclusions that can be arrived at when institutions are studied 
with the essential abstraction which all scientific inquiry demands. 

Nevertheless, the religious sect is also a valuable field for the 
study of social psychology. The sect is composed of sectarians 
and the sectarian is a personality. Moreover, his personality 
issues from the life of the sect and can be understood only if we 
take into account the social matrix in which it took form. The 
relation of the individual to the group and of institutions to the 
instinctive equipment, as well as the problem of the relation of 
inherited temperament to institutional organization all these 
and other psychological questions can be profitably studied in 
considering the sectarian and his sect. If we assume that 
human nature is not a fixed or constant or hereditary thing, but 
on the contrary results from the presence of, and contact with, 
one's fellows, the sect affords a field for the study of personality 
in its development which, in cases where the group is cut off with 
relative completeness from outside influences, gives a situation 
analogous to a laboratory setup where the conditions are con- 
trolled and the variables studied. 

The relation of individual personalities to institutions is 
apparently reciprocal. The members of a religious sect are 
shaped and fashioned in accordance with the traditions and 
world-view which prevail within the group. To ask why a man 
who has lived from infancy in a Mormon community looks at 
life from the standpoint of Mormonism is to ask a very easy 
question. His life has been defined within the given social whole. 
But if we become curious and inquire how the institution of Mor- 
monism was constituted, the question is more complex. For the 
sect has its roots in the far-distant past, besides having differentia 
that mark it off from any other institution. If it be true that the 


sectarian has been too often studied in isolation from the sect, 
it is even more apparent that the sect has been studied with too 
little regard for the other groups with which it was in contrast 
and conflict. The telescopes have had too small a field of vision. 
The conventional accounts include a certain description of the 
times and conditions, but the sect is usually set off rather too 
sharply against a definitely opposing group. Indeed, one may 
think of the sect in a figure. Arising at a time when the fixed 
order is breaking up, or tending to break up, the sect is the effort 
of the whole community to integrate itself anew. It is the order 
arising from social chaos, though the order may not be over- 
stable nor the chaos a condition of utter disruption. If we 
examine the organization of a large number of sects such as 
Quakers, Shakers, Mennonites, Dunkers, Perfectionists, and 
Amanas, what appears upon close scrutiny is that at a crucial 
moment in the history of a society a situation occurs which is 
literally unique, never having been present before in any group 
of people anywhere in the world at any period of time. And 
since the situation is unique and since the personalities of the 
members form a unique assemblage of forces, interests, and 
ideals, the solution of the difficulty has also a certain uniqueness 
about it. 

The student of the literature becomes familiar with a priori 
assumptions and the explanation by general principles, but these 
do not stand the test of a comparative study. One writer 
remarks that it was quite natural than Ann Lee should found a 
celibate community since she had such a disastrous married life. 
But many women have had disastrous married lives who did not 
found celibate communities, and many celibate communities 
have been founded by those who did not have disastrous married 
lives. Indeed, Ann Lee did not begin her sect with celibacy. 
That feature was a later addition. One writer has explained a 
colony of communistic celibates as response to their environment. 
They were in the wilderness in Pennsylvania shut off from asso- 
ciations and in a physical milieu very much like an ancient 
Egyptian sect that was celibate and communistic. The proof 
offered of this causal statement is that when civilization con- 
quered the wilderness their distinguishing doctrines were given 
up, which forces the remark that there are many settlements in 
the isolated wilderness that were neither communistic nor celi- 


bate, and, moreover, that some communistic sects persisted, and 
some still persist long after the whole surrounding community 
has been conquered by civilization. 

It is, therefore, impossible to say of any given region that it 
will produce a definite type of religion. The set forms of the con- 
stitution of a sect vary so much that the details must be regarded 
as chance or accidental. The problem here is very similar to the 
problem of an invention, differing chiefly in that the sect is a col- 
lective affair while an invention is individual. Of course the vari- 
ous members of a group are not equal in influence, and usually 
the fate of a whole religious movement will be modified by the 
biographical details of some important early leader. As is well 
known, polygamy was not the original program of the Mormons 
but came in in response to an attempt to meet a particular 
emergency. The Amana community has practiced communism 
for nearly a century, but they had many years of continuous 
existence before communism came into their mores. The cus- 
tom was adopted when, after one of their migrations, it developed 
that the poorer members who owed the more wealthy ones large 
sums of money for their lands seemed to be hopelessly in debt. 
Whereupon, after some divine inspirations and much conference 
and objection, it was at last agreed that they should hold all 
things in common. But, after the matter was so decided, this 
feature became an integral part of their society and has remained 
unquestioned for generations. 

There are many instances where the traditions of a group have 
been affected for long periods by the experience and influence of a 
single man. The Disciples, who form one of the larger denomi- 
nations, have a peculiar inconsistency in their treatment of 
non-members. Baptism by immersion is a sine qua non for 
membership, but those who are not baptized are freely admitted 
to the intimacies of the communion table. The problem is com- 
pletely explained by the experience of their leader, Campbell, 
who began as a Presbyterian and practiced open communion, 
later affiliated with the Baptists, and finally organized an inde- 
pendent sect. This variety of religious experience caused him to 
advocate the inconsistency which, being adopted by the small 
group and retained when it began to grow, has endured for a 
hundred years and been the occasion of much friction and at 
least one division. 


The sect is originally constituted, not by non-religious persons, 
but by those who have split off from existing organizations. 
Christian Science grows largely by accretion from former adher- 
ents of organizations which are older, and this is typical. The 
condition of unrest and confusion loosens the bonds of union, 
and sometimes a few kindred spirits find each other and a nucleus 
is formed. It is very rare that the original motive is separation, 
but when the divergent nucleus excites opposition and achieves 
group consciousness the time is ripe for a new sect. The first 
stage is then typically a stage of conflict, though the methods of 
warfare vary according to the standards of the times. Many of 
the organizations are short-lived, and it would be highly instruc- 
tive to have an exhaustive study of the small sects that did not 
survive. When group consciousness and morale characterize 
the original company or cadre of the sect, there is often a more 
or less rapid growth by accretion or attraction by others. Just 
why they are attracted is a very interesting problem. It is 
often assumed that the chief appeal is to men of like temperament. 
Perhaps this is what Giddings means by consciousness of kind. 
Men outside the sect join themselves to it because they feel a 
consciousness of kind, that is, they are similar in temperament 
and regard themselves as being like-minded. The question is not 
easy to decide, but there are facts which make this a doubtful 
explanation. Thomas Edwards, writing in 1646 about this very 
problem, gives a long list of motives which in his opinion were 
leading men to join the hated sects about him, among which are 
the following: some were needy, broken, decayed men who 
hoped to get something in the way of financial help from the new 
sect; some were guilty, suspected, and obnoxious men who were 
in the lurch and feared arrest or indictment, and to these the 
sect was a sanctuary; some, he claimed, had lawsuits and hoped 
to find friends to help them in their litigation; others, he thought, 
were ambitious, proud, covetous men with a mind to offices; still 
others, he insists, were libertines and loose persons seeking less 
restraint than the older communities insisted on; another class he 
calls wanton-willed, unstable persons who pretend to be con- 
vinced, while others he calls quarrelsome people who like to stir 
up trouble; and still others include those who have quarreled 
with their ministers or have had some trouble about their church 
dues and thus have gone off, disaffected. 


Even if we make a liberal allowance for the bitterness of the 
controversies of the seventeenth century, it seems necessary to 
conclude that the new converts were men of many types. To 
join a group it is not necessary that you regard yourself as like 
them; it might be more accurate to say that you have an ambition 
to be like them and therefore want to change. In the histories 
of most sects it is possible to describe a period of relatively intense 
conflict, and here the necessities of comparative study are the 
greater. For the conflict is modified by the opponents. Men 
learn the art of war from their enemies, and when they start out 
they are rarely as extreme as they come to be under the stress of 
the fighting. The Amanas attacked the clergy for immorality 
and laxity; they refused all military services and did not send 
their children to the public schools; while in their turn they were 
beaten, harassed, and imprisoned. William Penn's plea for 
religious freedom he justified on scriptural grounds, calling it 
natural, prudent, and Christian, finding in the Bible justification 
for loving one's enemies and refusing to employ human force. 
Tolerance he regarded as prudent because the Scripture says 
"no kingdom divided against itself can stand." But the oppo- 
nents of Penn are necessary if one is to understand the position 
he takes, a position which at that time was new and revolutionary. 
In Edwards' Gangraena there is a seventeenth-century expression 
of the view of the dominant group; toleration was wrong since 
"a kingdom divided against itself could not stand." Edwards 
regarded tolerance as a great evil, as the following quotation 
will show : 

Toleration is the grand designe of the Devil, his Masterpeece and 
chief e Engine he works by at this time to uphold his tottering Kingdome; 
it is the most compendious, ready, sure way to destroy all Religion, lay 
all waste, and bring in all evill; it is a most transcendent, catholique, and 
fundamentall evill for this Kingdom of any that can be imagined: 
As originall sin is the most fundamentall sin, all sin; having the seed and 
spawn of all in it: so a Toleration hath all errors in it, and all evils, it is 
against the whole streame and current of Scripture both in the Old and 
New Testament, both in matters of Faith and manners, both generall 
and particular commands; it overthrows all relations, both Politicall, 
Ecclesiasticall, and Oeconomicall; and whereas other evils, whether 
errors of judgment or practise, be but against some one or few places of 
Scripture or relation, this is against all, this is the Abaddon, Apollyon, 


the destroyer of all religion, the Abomination of Desolation and Astonish- 
ment, the Libertie of Perdition (as Augustine calls it) and therefore the 
Devil follows it night and day, working mightily in many by writing 
Books for it, and other wayes, all the Devils in Hell and their Instru- 
ments being at work to promote a Toleration (Thomas Edwards, 
Gangraena [London, 1646], pp. 121-22). 

The conflict unites the sect, creates esprit de corps, and height- 
ens morale. Usually, but not always, if the conflict be too severe 
so that confidence is lessened, dissensions may arise and factions 
appear. Conflict united the German people for four years, but 
when they began to feel that the cause was lost, the conflict broke 
up the unity of the nation. In the sect, however, a conflict can 
be with the " world," which is a subjective image, and it is pos- 
sible for a sect to survive great disasters since its members are 
so certain of ultimate success. The sect therefore has always 
some degree of isolation and is more apt to have a high morale 
when there has been success in securing a location shut off from 
the rest of the world. There are, however, devices of cultural 
isolation which overcome lack of physical separation, as can be 
observed in the present state of the Christian Science church. 
In this case isolation depends upon a separate vocabulary and 
particularly upon the admonition not to argue or discuss the 
matter with outsiders. The Masons, and to some extent the 
Mormons, achieve isolation by secrecy. 

In this conflict period of the life of the sect the tendency is 
toward exclusiveness wherever feasible. Certain economic rela- 
tions with the " world' 7 are necessary, but the cultural life is pro- 
tected. There is always a tendency to be an endogenous tribe. 
Sometimes to marry an outsider is to forfeit membership in the 
group. Yet the time always comes when this is difficult to 
enforce, for from the beginning of time the sons of God have 
looked upon the daughters of men and found them fair and desir- 
able. Intermarriage never becomes general until disintegration 
has set in, and it is always a destructive influence, for queens 
make good foreign missionaries and no child can easily despise 
the religion of his mother. 

A highly interesting aspect of the development of a sect is 
found in the tendency to divide and become two sects, typically 
more bitter toward each other than toward the " world" which 
they formerly united in opposing. There appear to be two types 


of division. Sometimes it merely represents a stage in the 
process of reabsorption into the larger society from which they 
came out. In this case the progressives or innovators want to 
change the old customs to conform with what is being done out- 
side. The Disciples split on the question of whether an organ 
should be used in church, the organ party wishing to imitate the 
outsiders while their opponents wanted to maintain the older 
tradition. Another type of division seems to give no such clue. 
It is apparently a differential interpretation of an ambiguous 
constitutional phrase. The Bunkers had an issue concerning 
multiple foot washing; one party insisted that each person 
should wash the feet of only one other, while their opponents 
contended that each should wash the feet of several. The text 
to which both parties appealed was: "Ye ought to wash one 
another's feet." There are other examples of ambiguity in the 
initial statement or doctrine, and unless there is an adequate 
machinery, or supreme court, which can settle the matter, divi- 
sions may result. 

But whether the group divides or not, a period arrives when 
the isolation begins to disappear and the customs of the outside 
world with its beliefs and practices, even its ideals and doctrines, 
begin gradually to penetrate the group. When two people live 
side by side they always influence each other. The Boers in 
Angola smear their floors with fresh cow dung, which picturesque 
custom they acquired from the savages around them. Such 
tendencies are slow in coming and are often very strenuously 
resisted. In 1905 the annual meeting of the Old Order Brethren 
solemnly decided that it was unscriptural for any of their mem- 
bers to have a telephone. The Dunker authorities have solemnly 
ruled on erring brethren who attended animal shows, played 
authors, bought county bonds, served on juries, bought pianos, 
used sleigh bells, wore neckties, used fiddles, wore standing cout 
collars, erected tombstones, and joined the Y. M. C. A. All 
this was many years ago and the process starting then has gone 
on until many of the progressive Dunkers smile at what they now 
call old-fashioned objections. 

If we turn now to the question of personality and the light 
which a study of sects can give us on this problem, it is clear that 
the sect in its collective life produces the sectarian. The secta- 
rian is therefore a type, and types of personality turn out to be the 


end-products which issue from the activities of a group. Types 
can be studied with reference to the morphology of the human 
body. Thus, men can be divided into the fat and round, the lean 
and slim, and any other discoverable groupings. They may be 
divided into introverts and extroverts, though nearly all the 
people you meet are neither one nor the other, but rather mixed. 
These and many other classifications are of value and should be 
encouraged; but they fail to meet all the needs, and it becomes 
apparent that the social life men live is more relevant than the 
physical constitution they inherit. There is a typical Mormon 
and his personality can be described. He is in favor of the 
highly centralized institutional organization; he is ruled by a 
characteristic system of theology; he believes in private property 
controlled to a certain extent by a theocracy. Likewise, there is 
a typical Shaker; but the Shaker holds private property to be 
undesirable and even against the will of God. Moreover, to 
the Shaker all sexual intercourse is immoral, and there is a long 
list of definite statements that could be applied to this typical 
individual. There is also a typical Dunker, neither com- 
munistic, like the Shaker, nor ruled by a central hierarchy, like 
the Mormon. He belongs to the one true church, as most sec- 
tarians do, but each sectarian belongs to a different one true 
church than the other sectarians. The Dunker regards it as 
obligatory to be immersed in water three times, facing forward 
each time. He must ceremonially wash his brother's feet and 
give him a holy kiss of love, keeping himself unspotted from the 

Each of these sects, like all closely organized religious groups, 
has a peculiar vocabulary, a fixed tradition, and a specific and 
peculiar way of regarding God and man, the world and the 
hereafter. The sect, then, is analogous to a primitive tribe, and 
the primitive tribe has long been recognized as productive of 
specific types of personality. There is more difference between a 
Shaker and a Dunker than between the equatorial Bantus and 
the South African Zulus. And this difference exists in spite of 
essential similarities in race, language, and geographical similari- 
ties in environment. 

These types are the result of social heritage and breed true 
socially for long periods of time. They cannot be explained by 
geographical environment, for the Dunkers and the Amanas and 


many others live in the same kind of environment, cultivating 
the same soil and surrounded by neighbors who are alien. Nor 
can appeal be made to physical heredity, for the sects are con- 
stantly acquiring members from outside the line of descent. 
The Mormon missionaries traveled all over America and Europe 
seeking and finding new recruits for the community in Utah. 
The cultural life produces the mores, and the mores are irresistible 
when skillfully inculcated into the young and into the new 

Moreover, as time goes on new and often important variations 
in the mores arise. Neither for the group nor for the individual 
are all moments equally important. Life does not consist of 
unaccented rhythms, but rather of periods of uniformity followed 
by important moments of decision, and from these latter issue 
changes which may determine the course of the group for genera- 
tions to come. 

In this connection it becomes necessary to refer again to the 
assumption frequently made that there is a temperamental uni- 
formity which explains the group. They are all assumed to be 
like-minded; new converts come in because of a consciousness of 
kind. The group is assumed to select those of a certain tempera- 
ment. This interpretation fails to meet just criticism. An 
examination of the membership of the sect and the phenomenon 
of division and dissension forces the assumption that many 
varieties of temperament are included in the membership of the 
sect. The hypothesis here advanced is that the new convert 
does not come in because he was of like mind, but that he comes 
in because he changes his mind. He makes it up in a different 
way. The sect attracts him because he wants to be different 
and it takes him and makes him into a different type as he comes 
to enter into the cultural life. 

In support of this notion several types of facts seem relevant. 
First, the sect arises in a time of disorganization, which is always 
a period of unsettling. Men are thus ready for a new stable or 
organizing influence. They do not join because they are like 
anybody; they join because some solution is offered to their 
unrest. Second, the descendants of the members of the sect 
can be assumed to be of different temperaments, and this assump- 
tion is borne out on investigation. In spite of the difference in 
temperament the typical sectarian in each case can be accurately 


described and is held to loyal membership until the sect begins 
to disintegrate. 

Facts of the third group are more important and more conclu- 
sive. It has been pointed out that the history of the sect shows 
a typical progression. The period of extreme isolation, conflict, 
and high morale is followed by a more irenic era, when con- 
formity with the outside world gets increasing approval. The 
end result is the disappearance of the sect as a separate conflict 
group and the lessening importance of their differences when con- 
sidering the influence of these on the personality of the sectarian. 
The typical sectarian is, therefore, a different person in the dif- 
ferent stages of the life of the group. The assumption of the 
temperamental uniformity is difficult to hold in the light of the 
progressive alterations which are demonstrable. A combative, 
exclusive non-conformist who dresses differently from those in 
the society in which he lives is a very different personality from 
him who joins with others in their associations and enterprises 
and who comes to be a patriotic and regular member of an 
American political unit. Since the sectarian is the individual 
aspect of his sect, he changes when his group changes and his 
group changes with a changing set of relations. The changes in 
the sect are not dependent on the temperament of the members, 
and the changes in the sectarian reflect the collective life. There- 
fore, the temperament of the sectarian is a varying element and 
the theory of the temperamental selection seems inadequately 

Those who appeal to temperament as a causative factor do not 
always keep in mind that temperament is an inference and not a 
fact. Temperamental qualities are abstractions. A definition 
of temperament would include those factors in the personality 
which determine the mode of behavior and which are innate. 
Since, however, temperament does not become important until 
the personality is formed, it is always a matter of inferential 
abstraction. The temperament can be shown to change, and 
arguments about inherited temperament ought to be made with 
the greatest care. 

Experience is, then, creative. The sect is not a safe refuge where 
the temperament and desires of an outsider can be comfortably 
expressed and realized; it is rather a formative force or set of 
forces; and the motives which lead a man to join a sect may be 


quite different from those which assure his continuance in it. 
No one on the outside can fully know what the experience on the 
inside is. Being a sectarian may be more satisfying than was at 
first imagined, or it may be less so, but it is certainly never 
exactly anticipated. The motives which lead a woman to the 
altar in marriage may be quite different from those which make 
her decide to endure to the end. The reason a man takes up 
smoking is rarely the motive which makes him continue the 
habit. The sectarian is, therefore, in some sense a new creature. 
He may regard himself, and quite accurately, as entirely made 
over. Very commonly he refers to the new existence as a rebirth. 

If we attempt to analyze the personality of the sect in terms of 
attitudes, we have available the theoretical discussion of W. I. 
Thomas and F. Znaniecki. An attitude is stated to be a process of 
individual consciousness set over against a corresponding value. 
R. E. Park in discussing attitudes is concerned with the relation 
of attitudes and the wishes and opinions. The attitude is said to 
be the mobilization of the will. Psychologists, among whom 
Allport and Thurstone may be mentioned, have attempted to 
investigate attitudes by questionnaires and inquiries regarding 
verbal assent or dissent. The assumption is that the attitude 
corresponds to the verbal expression of it. 

In the work of V. Pareto there are distinguished three elements 
which we may roughly force into some kind of relation with the 
preceding points of view. There are C, the customs, convictions, 
and principles which the members share; these he calls the 
derivees. The second element, B, is the verbal expression when 
the first is questioned or challenged and represents the need to be 
logical or the desire to appear reasonable. These he calls the 
derivations. There is a third element, A, relatively invariable, 
arising from the sentiments and interests which may be admitted, 
but which are often concealed. These are spoken of as the 

The social attitude seems to correspond to the residues, but 
there is also an attitude of a more general sort corresponding to 
the dfrivfos. The residues, or attitudes, are never the object of 
direct perception. They must be inferred, but the inference is a 
necessity. Thus Mormon polygamy was at one time an accepted 
practice; it was a derivee, in class C. The reasons assigned for 
the practice in debate, argument, and propaganda belong to the 


class B. They are highly variable and a premium is placed on 
ingenuity and originality in the inevitable forensics. But the 
inner motives and deep-lying attitudes arising out of their instinc- 
tive cravings and sentiments, class A, may be very different from 
what would be admitted. Without going into detail here it is 
apparent that sexuality is involved to a degree to be determined 
by whatever methods are at hand. 

Now, the origin of social forms, the creation of new mores, need 
be uniform in a given group only in class C. The elements B tend 
to have more uniformity, but are still quite various, while the 
element A admits a far wider variety. Some people join the 
Dunkers for economic security; others, to avoid military service; 
others, out of disgust for the state religion; and so on through a 
great variety. The derivations, or class B, among religious sects 
are often taken from Bible texts, and it sometimes happens that 
the same derivation will be used by opposing sects to justify con- 
tradictory practices. " Suffer little children to come unto me 
for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven" is quoted by Baptists to 
show that infants do not need to be baptized; it is quoted by 
Paedo-Baptists to justify the baptism of children. 

"Every kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." This 
derivation is quoted by Quakers to prove that sects should be tol- 
erated, and by Edwards to prove that they should be suppressed. 

"In Heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage." 
This is a favorite proof text for the Shakers, to show that there 
should be no sexual intercourse, and was the central text quoted 
by the Perfectionists to justify the form of free love which they 
called "complex marriage." 

The number and nature of the attitudes, the residues, is large 
and bears upon the question of like-mindedness and similarity of 
temperament. As already pointed out, there may be a score of 
varying motives which bring people into a common organization. 

But now comes the most important consideration. The atti- 
tudes in class A, the residues, are continually being reformed. 
They are created as emotional experiences multiply and result 
from later derivations and new objects and new loyalties. The 
common experience in the sect tends to make widely varying 
residues more nearly common and identical. 

Pareto points out the necessity for caution in assuming, as 
Allport and Thurstone do, the correspondence of derivation and 


residue. The literature of the Shakers abounds in ascetic sen- 
tences and repeated assertions that sex is an unnecessary evil, 
but sometimes the Shakers worked all day and danced all 
night, and in the early period the men and women were nude 
and danced together. It seems necessary to assume a far greater 
interest in sex than their opinions and principles express. One 
cannot understand a sect by merely studying its creed. 

The study of the sects which survived needs supplementing 
by a knowledge of those which died. In certain periods of dis- 
organization there were many small aberrant attempts at 
organization which did not live and many doctrines which did 
not take on. One John Boggis, who became a preacher of note 
in seventeenth-century England, is quoted by Edwards as refusing 
to say grace at dinner where the meat was a shoulder of roast 
veal, scornfully asking "to whom shall I give thanks, whether to 
the butcher, the bull, or the cow?" Such extreme divergence 
failed to take on. 

In every time of disorganization there is always a certain 
disorder in the sex mores. This happens in political revolutions 
and also in a time of religious unrest. The new sects are very 
often accused of sex practices contrary to the mores. Some of 
these accusations are probably exaggerated, because the enemies 
are rarely restrained in their statements, but it is easy to point 
out a certain trend toward sex liberty among many of the sects. 
Edwards quotes a certain scriptural argument. One of the sects 
insisted that since death dissolved the marriage bond, and since 
the Scripture teaches that sleep is a form of temporary death, it 
is no sin to engage in sex intercourse if one's husband or wife 
is asleep. In such an instance there is a clear indication of a 
strong attitude and an example of the ingenuity of the derivation, 
or, in this case, the rationalization. 

We conclude, then, that the sect is the result of collective 
forces that surround it and to which its own life is in part a reac- 
tion. The sect produces a type which comes to take on certain 
attitudes, to be devoted to certain objects and values, and to 
define life and the world in the way that is approved. The most 
fruitful field for study would seem to lie in the securing of com- 
plete and adequate life histories of sectarians, including new 
converts to the sect, members who have always been in it, and 
dissidents and deserters who have gone out from it. For the 


intimate life histories will give light on the actual product that the 
sect is responsible for and afford material for the accurate answer- 
ing of some of the problems at present unresolved. 

The purpose of this chapter has been to call attention to a field 
of study which has not been wholly neglected but which has not 
yielded the results that it might yield if the material were studied 
with diligence. It seems not too much to say that the sect and 
the sectarian, if adequately investigated, could throw a flood of 
needed light upon one of our oldest and most perennial problems : 
the relation of society to the individual, the leader to his group, 
the relation of institutions to instincts, which is the same problem 
that interested Plato when he discussed the relation of the one 
and the many. 


The doctrine of human instincts is, in this country, hardly 
more than a generation old. It was as late as 1890 that James 
wrote: " Nothing is commoner than the remark that man differs 
from the lower creatures by the almost total lack of instincts 
and the assumption of their work by reason. " So well did he 
argue for the existence of instincts in man that men came to say: 
Nothing is commoner than the belief that we are endowed with 
instincts inherited from the lower creatures. Whole systems of 
psychology have been founded on this assumption. And yet the 
agreement among psychologists has very definite limits. As each 
came to define and list the instincts, it became increasingly appar- 
ent that the subject was very difficult, there being little agree- 
ment either as to the nature of the instincts or their number. 
At the present time there is the widest diversity of opinion as to 
what an instinct is ; there is the utmost confusion as to how many 
instincts there are. What are the implications of this diversity 
and this confusion? Perhaps the explanation is that human 
instincts are explanatory assumptions and not observable 
phenomena. Let us examine how they are defined and listed. 

The definitions vary widely. ^Says James: "An instinct is 
the faculty of acting in such a way as to produce certain ends 
without foresight of the ends and without previous education in 
their performance/' 17 ) This definition is criticized by several of 
his successors, incluomg Thorndike. 2 The succeeding attempts 
agree, for the most part, in being different from that of James, 
but their similarity goes little farther. Hunter expresses his view 
in five words, calling an instinct^* an inherited coordination of 
reflexes," adding that "it refers not to a state of consciousness 
but to a mode of behavior/') against which notion McDougall 

1 Principles of Psychology, II, 383. 

2 Educational Psychology, I, 22. 
8 General Psychology, p. 163. 



asserts that (^ instincts are an outcome of a distinctly mental 
process as well as an innate tendency."} McDougall represents 
a tendency which culminates in this curious formulation from 

Now we are proposing to call the conscious impulse instinct, when and 
in so far as it is not itself determined by previous experience, but only 
determined in experience, while itself determining experience in conjunc- 
tion with the natural objects or situations determining experience as 
sensation. 2 

One is tempted to discuss this gem of verbosity, but I pass to 
the statement of Mlinsterberg that Ihe term "instinct" is not a 
psychological category at all, but is strictly biological,} "the 
instincts do not introduce any new type of psychological experi- 
ence/' 3 which opinion can be set over against (^he contradictory 
assertion of Wundt: "The assumption that instincts belong only 
to the animal and not to human consciousness is of course entirely 
unpsychological and contrary to experience. "O Watson calls it a 
chain of reflexes, while Pillsbury 6 relates it to openness of synaptic 
connection. It is perhaps unnecessary to cite further instances, 
for every student of the literature is aware of the wide variations 
in the formulations of the definitions not merely verbal dif- 
ferences, for these would not be important, but fundamental 
differences in conception. But why do they differ so widely? 
May it not be due to the very nature of the problem itself? 

Certain of the psychologists have, indeed, written very frankly 
concerning the difficulties here insisted upon, but the momentum 
of current opinion, the idols of the theater, have prevented their 
carrying out the impulse to reject the category as a factual datum. 
Thus Thorndike admits : 

Lack of observations of human behavior and the difficulty in interpret- 
ing the facts that have been observed which is the consequence of a 
civilized environment, the transitoriness of instincts and the early 
incessant and intimate interaction of nature and nurture, thus baffle 
the cataloguer of original tendencies. 6 

1 Social Psychology, p. 26. 

1 Instinct in Man, p. 88. 

1 Psychology, General and Applied, p. 186. 

4 Outlines of Psychology, p. 317. 

* Essentials of Psychology, p. 240. 

Educational Psychology, I, 40. 


Unfortunately, the baffled feeling did not endure, for on page 52 
of the same volume the very same author thus describes the 
instinct of hunting an instinct which Angell declares not to exist. 

To a small escaping object, man, especially if hungry, responds, apart 
from training, by pursuit, being satisfied when he draws nearer to it. 
When within pouncing distance, he pounces upon it, grasping at it. 
If it is not seized he is annoyed. If it is seized, he examines, manipu- 
lates and dismembers it, unless some contrary tendency is brought into 
action by its sliminess, sting or the like. To an object of moderate 
size and not offensive mien moving away from or past him man originally 
responds much as noted above, save that in seizing the object chased, he 
is likely to throw himself upon it, bear it to the ground, choke and maul 
it until it is completely subdued, giving then a cry of triumph. 

This description lacks nothing in vividness, but one would 
hardly have expected such a statement from the scholar who 
wrote the masterly critique of the doctrine of imitation. The 
description is hardly convincing it smacks of the armchair. 
How many children in the city parks may be observed pouncing 
on the small animals and dismembering them? The chickens, 
cats, and small dogs are "of moderate size and not offensive mien' 1 
and often may be seen "moving away from or past" the children, 
but the number of times the children can be observed "choking 
and mauling them till completely subdued, giving then a cry of 
triumph" is perhaps decidedly limited. Certainly, if the above 
is the hunting-instinct, then very few observers have seen it 
manifested and no one appears to have recorded any supporting 
facts. Perhaps this happens only when the human being is 
"apart from training," but the trouble is that the hypothetical 
baby who, on a desert island, had no training at all, died at the 
tender age of two days and only the writers of the books have 
ever seen a man "apart from training.' 7 

Watson also makes a frank admission. 

No fair-minded scientific observer of instincts in man would claim 
that the genus homo possesses anything like the picturesque instinctive 
repertoire of the animal. Yet even James maintains the contrary. . . . 
Instinct and the capacity to form habits, while related functions, are 
present in any animal in inverse ratio. Man excels in his habit-forming 
capacities. 1 

1 Psychology, p. 254. 


Yet even Watson gives an extended list of instincts, accompanied, 
at the same time, with many expressed misgivings. 1 

x Cooley)may be taken as a representative of those who reject 
the term "instinct" as characteristic of human nature, the dis- 
tinguishing marks of which being the plastic and variable nature 
of the responses. 2 ^Munsterberg, already quoted, also rejects 

It is clear, then, that the definition of the term is in doubt. 
It will be even easier to show that <he number and classification 
of the instincts is in a state of direst confusion?) Qames leads off 
with some thirty-two (including the instinct of licking sugar!), 
but Angell 3 is content with half that number, rejecting the 
alleged instinct of cleanliness (perhaps he had a small boy of his 
own) and refusing to include hunting and modesty) He did, 
however, make certain additions not on James's list. vVarren 4 
has twenty-six, including " clothing," " resenting," and "domi- 
neering " while Thorndike in his Original Nature enumerates 
some forty or more) besides certain " multiple tendencies" both 
of thought and action. (Nor is this all. Pillsbury, Watson, 
Hunter, and the rest, among the psychologists, as well as Graham 
Wallas, Carleton Parker, Ellwood, and Hayes, and many others, 
all follow with their own lists, no two quite agreeing and each with 
his own opinion as to what should be included and what rejected. 
McDougalfy in the work already referred to, has proposed a 
criterion which requires the instinct to be found among the 
animals, not in all the animals but in some of them, and also to 
be found in an exaggerated form among abnormal people. This 
leads him to (posit some fifteen or more, the number varying in 
different editions of his work"N The zoological garden on the one 
side and the insane asylum on the other would thus have a veto 
on the candidates for the list, but the criteria have found favor 
with but few. 

\rotter in a war-time book insists on four instincts and no 
more; Ames in his Psychology of Religion reduces them to two 
instincts which he finds quite sufficient to explain the complexities 
of human life, while Freud, Jung, LeBon, and Kropatkin each 

1 In later writings Watson abandoned the instinct doctrine. 

8 Social Process, p. 199. 

8 Psychology, p. 349. 

4 Human Psychology, p. 106. 


reduces human nature to one single instinctive principle, though 
they do not agree on what it is^) 

How does it happen that gifted men are so unable to agree on 
what they consider the basic facts of human nature? Some slight 
differences might be understood, but surely the range is distress- 
ingly wide. One, or two, or four, or eleven, or sixteen, or thirty, 
or forty this looks suspicious. Facts are the given, accepted, 
apparent data of a problem. Perhaps instincts are the 

There is lone distinction)that has received increasing emphasis 
since the time of James, thatlbetween reflexes and instincts^ 
This distinction seems too valuable to be surrendered, for there is 
a class of (reflexes, like sneezing and coughing) that do not vary 
noticeably, and there is a list of them in constant use for diag- 
nostic purposes. The patellar reflex is a well-known example. 
But the case of the instincts is very different. No such specificity 
exists here, no such invariability, no approximation of anything 
approaching the uniformity with which different authorities set 
forth the list of reflexes. 

(Jhe difficulty in formulating a doctrine of instincts is that 
habit and social interaction enter in so early that it is difficult to 
disentangle the original from the acquired.^) For example, Watson 
investigated the causes of fear in children. A statement by 
James has been repeated and reaffirmed by many subsequent 

Strange animals, either large or small, excite fear, but especially men 
or animals advancing toward us in a threatening way. This is entirely 
instinctive and antecedent to experience. Some children will cry with 
terror at their very first sight of a cat or dog, and it will often be impos- 
sible for weeks to make them touch it. 

Watson tested this, by introducing into the presence of children 
who had no previous experience with animals, all sorts of strange 
stimuli, a pigeon, a rabbit, a white rat, or a dog, but he was unable 
to find any visual experience that caused fear. He did find, how- 
ever, that if a sudden noise frightened a child at the same time 
that a hairy animal or a fur coat was shown him, the presence of 
the coat or the animal alone would subsequently arouse fear. 1 
And the moral of that is that the conditioned reflex, or as the older 

1 Op. cit., chap. 6. 


writers called it, simultaneous association, begins to modify 
inherited reactions from the very first, and continues so to modify 
them, (instincts are therefore impossible to make out in their 
purity, for they: are constantly being modified by habit and 
social experiencej 

<Jhe most usual explanation of instinct has relied upon the 
so-called genetic method and assumes that these social customs, 
which are observed among civilized people, are the result of the 
stamping in, through age-long experience, of some reaction which 
is inherited by each succeeding generation. Thus Patrick 
derives the love of baseball from the activities of prehistoric 
savages: "Man in the primitive world had to run, throw, and 
strike." And baseball actually reproduces the very attitude of 
the cave man with his club. The question arises, however, as 
to why Russian boys or the French or the Chinese do not play 
baseball. It is to be presumed that American boys are not alone 
in having descended from primitive man.) 

(The ridiculous length to which this author carries the " genetic " 
method is illustrated by his statement that "the former depen- 
dence of man upon the horse i$ shown in the instinct of the child 
of today to play horse, to ride a rocking-horse, or a stick, or 

The corrective of this type of error lies in a wider knowledge of 
ethnology. Consider, for example, the enormous variation in 
food preferences. The Eskimo eats only meat, often raw. The 
Hindu eats only vegetables and is unwilling to kill even an 
insect. Most of us eat both animals and vegetables. Millions 
of people still occasionally eat human flesh. Whole nations have 
fish as a prominent part of their diet, but the Plains Indians 
never eat fish, regarding it as poison. A colleague of mine objects 
to Negroes' living next door to him and defends it as an inherited 
instinct, while Texans on the Rio Grande speak of a "native 
instinct " of hostility to the Mexicans, not to speak of the 
feeling of Calif ornians toward the Japanese. None of these 
feelings are instinctive. 

The power of a social custom to modify original nature may be 
well illustrated by comparing the attitudes of two African tribes 
concerning twins. The women of the Ibibio tribe in Nigeria live 
in constant dread of the misfortune of bearing twins. They 

1 Psychology of Relaxation, p. 56. 


never eat of a double yam or a double plantain lest its magic 
power cause the birth of twin children, one of whom at least is 
no merely mortal offspring but the child of some wandering 
demon. When twins are born, they are flung into the bush for 
the leopards to eat, while the mother goes apart for twelve 
months, purifying herself in strict seclusion, food being taken to 
her once a week. Even this is a mitigation, due to the human- 
izing effect of an approaching civilization, for formerly both 
mother and children were invariably killed. 

In the Congo valley live the Bankundo people, less than a 
thousand miles from those in Nigeria, among whom the mother of 
twins is the object of honor and veneration throughout her life. 
She is entitled to wear a special badge around her neck, and her 
name is changed to "Mother-of-Twins," a title which is quite 
permanent, like the title "Judge" among us, or "Colonel" in 
Kentucky. She is always saluted in a special manner, being 
given a double greeting, one for each twin. 

The natives of the Ibibio tribe are thus afraid of twins and 
always kill them. The Bankundo fondly love twins and highly 
honor their mother. If either of these customs was alone known, 
we might easily assume an instinct toward twins. To account for 
the former, the law might be formulated : In the parental instinct 
two affirmatives are equal to a negative, canceling each other. 
If the latter custom were to be reduced to law, it might read: 
Parental love varies directly as the square of the number of 
children born simultaneously. The customs being contradic- 
tory, we are compelled to assign the phenomena to nurture and 
not to nature. 

Many discussions of instinct refer to the imagined experiences 
of our primitive ancestors, experiences which are not learned 
by a direct observation of facts, but which are described by those 
who possess a luxuriant imagination. In discussing the instinct 
of pugnacity, McDougall quotes with approval Lang's account 
of the origin of prohibition and punishment. It is too delicious 
to omit : 

The primitive society was a polygamous family, consisting of a 
patriarch, his wives and children. The young males, as they became 
full-grown, were driven out of the community by the patriarch, who was 
jealous of all possible rivals to his marital privileges. They formed 
semi-independent bands hanging, perhaps, on the skirts of the family 


circle, from which they were jealously excluded. From time to time the 
young males would be brought by their sex impulse into deadly strife 
with the patriarch, and, when one of them succeeded in overcoming him, 
this one would take his place and rule in his stead. 1 

Since there are absolutely no data on the foregoing question, as 
no one ever observed such a society, the luxuriance of imagery 
is remarkable. But the scientific (?) process involved is identical 
in every way with primitive mythmaking and differs in no respect 
from the explanation which Eskimos give in Greenland to account 
for the existence of white men, who are said to be the children of 
an Eskimo girl who got lost and married a dog. 

Stimulated by these illustrious examples, I have been embold- 
ened to explain an interesting "instinct" which, though widely 
known, seems to have escaped the attention of our professional 
mythologists. In observing my six-month-old infant, his 
tendency to put his toes into his mouth is the occasion of much 
interest on the part of the family. Now this " instinct" is quite 
common among human infants, and is not due to imitation, for, 
alas, my joints are so stiff that he did not learn it from me. It is 
a native, inherited propensity. As a "genetic" psychologist I 
might explain it as inherited from cave-dwelling ancestors who, 
shut up all winter in their caves, would necessarily let fall much 
food upon the floor of the cave, some of which would inevitably 
be collected in considerable masses on the bottoms of the feet 
and between the toes of the inhabitants of the cave. In times of 
famine, those who could eat the accumulated food from their 
feet and toes would be enabled to survive, and thus the tendency, 
now no longer useful, would be inherited by their descendants. 

Still retorting in kind, I would insist that by the criteria of 
McDougall it would be entirely possible to make an irrefragable 
argument for the existence of infanticide as a human instinct. 
It complies with all the requirements; it is specific, it occurs 
frequently among the lower animals, and it exists among abnor- 
mal people as a pathological disturbance. While infanticide is 
not universal, yet no instinct is without exception, and the 
"instinct" of infanticide may be thought of as moderated by the 
"parental instinct," just as shyness and sociability modify each 
other or as curiosity and secretiveness are held to alternate in 
their activity. The instinct is confined to girl babies among 

1 W. McDougall, Introduction to Social Psychology, p. 282. 


some tribes, and was widely practiced in some form among the 
Greeks and Romans. It is undoubtedly very widespread among 
civilized people, but is now usually concealed. It could also be 
argued that infanticide had, originally, a survival value. It 
not only has eugenic possibilities, as when called out by the per- 
ception of weak or sickly or deformed children, but in times of 
famine it would reduce the number of mouths to be fed. More- 
over, the children themselves could be cooked and eaten. 
Readers of the Bible will recall the passage in Deuteronomy, 
chapter 28, where the eating of children by parents is specifically 
referred to. Surely, the reductio ad absurdum is justified. 

One who goes over the literature carefully is impressed by 
the fact that whenever it is proposed to discuss a human instinct 
there is a tendency to give examples of the behavior of the lower 
animals. Drever has written a book on Instinct in Man, for 
the most part a discussion of the opinions of philosophers. There 
is very little citation of facts, and when one comes, finally, to a 
chapter on specific instinct tendencies and proposes to read about 
gregariousness, he is presented with an account of the behavior 
of the wild ox of Damaraland. Descriptions of human behavior 
usually concern observations of children, and if these are^infants, 
no instincts occur, only reflexesD The explanation of adult 
behavior usually goes back to the adaptive behavior of primitive 
man, who never acquired any bad habits because he lived in the 
golden age when nature was right. 

It is perfectly clear that such naive inventions based on a 
theory of evolution form no part of a valid scientific method and 
only obscure the whole issue. This much at least is plain :(An 
instinct in developed human beings can never be the result of 
direct observation. At best, it can be a hypothetical inference, 
an assumed elementary component in a complex human situa- 
tion?) (jt was formerly assumed that human mothers were in 
possession of a maternal instinct which enabled them to perform 
their duties adequately. But if untaught human mothers be 
carefully observed, very little evidence appears in support of 
this notion. One of the most awkward sights to be seen, says 
Watson, is an uninstructed young mother trying to bathe her 
baby. It is safe to say that the doctrine of a maternal instinct 
so eloquently preached by psychologists is not only untrue, but 
has been the occasion of much suffering and even of the death 


of many children. A mother robin knows without teaching how 
to prepare a place for her young, what sort of food they need, 
and where to find it. There is much evidence that human 
mothers are far less competent in this respecv The common 
opinion is that uncivilized people are more fortunate and that our 
maladjustments are due, not to our human nature, but to the 
artificialities of civilization. But the more primitive people are 
understood, the less support appears for this view. Present-day 
uncivilized people have an enormous death rate, endure much 
pain and suffering, and, moreover, have their lives hedged about 
at every turn with artificial convention, rigid and harmful 
taboos, social prohibitions, and threatening fears. 

There is probably sufficient warrant for assuming instincts 
among the lower animals, and there is certainly no justification 
for going back to the older view that man has reason which marks 
him off as acting from considered motives; but it is a question 
whether the human animal does inherit specific instinctive pat- 
terns. There seems to be a fundamental difference between 
man and the lower creatures. 

What I am insisting on is that the humap. instincts, except in 
the case of very young children performing various simple acts, 
are never the result of direct observation. CThese infantile acts 
are moreover of the reflex typeT) If human instincts were assumed 
as hypothetical concepts to be arrived at at the end of the discus- 
sion, the psychologist would not commit the sin against the Holy 
Ghost. ^Vhat this type of " genetic " psychologist does is to make 
his hypotheses into a fact and put it at the first of his discussion; 
but to make into fact that which is not fact is to deserve censure^) 
If we are ever to get ahead, we must know a fact when we see it. 

The social psychologist should fasten his attention on the facts 
of human nature which lie all around us in the form of attitudes, 
desires, and wishes, which can be recorded, studied, collected, 
classified, and explained, and which are open to no such objection 
as the instincts, which in the nature of the case are always hypo- 
thetical components of a complex form of behavior. 

Genetic psychology would not only be defensible, but would be 
in the highest degree valuable if it abandoned its attempt to 
explain human nature as a whole and confined itself to the study 
of particular groups. It is very profitable to try to understand 
the different stages through which an American boy will probably 


pass on the way from childhood to maturity. It is also a reason- 
able possibility that such a statement can be made. But no 
statement can be true of all men everywhere, so long as cultural 
inheritances differ so profoundly. The American boy during 
adolescence often passes through a period of individualism and 
rebellion. So also perhaps do boys of other groups, but certainly 
it is not true that the boys in isolated primitive groups have just 
this tendency. Girls play with dolls and boys with marbles, 
but this is not original nature nor instinctive nor to be explained 
by racial history. I have often seen in equatorial Africa a naked 
child of five drawing along the path a realistic model of a five- 
hundred-ton steamer with a stern wheel that turned. The 
toys of children always point forward, never backward. The 
explanation is to be found in social recognition and not in pre- 
historic activities. 

The Polish Peasant, by Thomas and Znaniecki, is a model of 
the type of investigation referred to. For a Polish peasant is not 
like a Russian peasant, and is very different from a Chinese 
coolie. And the difference is to be accounted for, to an extent 
as yet undetermined, in terms of social interaction. (Nothing 
but confusion and disappointment will result from regarding 
instincts as factual data which can be observed, classified, and 
explained) Students of social psychology should study social 
values, social attitudes, desires, wishes, and organization. We 
should build on a foundation of facts. We need to elaborate 
better ways to get at the facts. The emphasis should be placed 
on methods of investigation. We should leave to others their 
mythological constructions and build our science on surer 

(JBut if it be contended that conscious desires and wishes are too 
varied and complex to be adequately dealt with and that the 
assumption of instincts is a necessary simplification of the multi- 
form material, the answer is that the simplification is unreal and 
the satisfactions are illusorQ The schoolrooms of the land too 
often present the spectacle of straight rows of identical desks at 
which sit children of the same age, supposedly endowed with the 
same instincts and therefore to be treated all alike. And when 
the method fails, democracy is blamed instead of the mistaken 
science. In his last book McDougall has actually formulated 
separate degrees of instincts for separate races, and we of the 


Nordic race are asserted to be deficient in the " gregarious 
instinct," being a race in love with our separate homes, from 
which we emerge only at the call of duty, or war, or ambition. 
And he has seen New York! 

There is, however, a concept of a hypothetical character which 
is a necessary assumption, the study of which is most important 
and which has been strangely neglected. I refer to temperament. 
Had the energy that has been devoted to describing and listing 
hypothetical instincts been devoted to an attempt to analyze and 
isolate the temperamental factor in the complex social attitudes, 
we should be much farther ahead. Instinct tends to describe us 
en masse; temperament emphasizes the differences. And in the 
solution of the problems of personality that confront the social 
psychologist, the differences are the more significant. 

The analysis and isolation of temperamental attitudes is a 
very difficult task, for temperament, too, is a hypothesis. For 
more than two thousand years the term has been used and the 
results are still very meager. But with the impetus given the 
subject by the interesting work of Downey 1 and with current 
interest in the study of human wishes, there is ground for hoping 
that patience and hard thinking may yet be rewarded. If 
temperaments could be adequately classified and a method of 
determining them could be devised, there would be made available 
an invaluable supplement to the intelligence tests. Indeed, 
until something of this nature is discovered, the intelligence tests 
will not only fail to come into their full usefulness, but will 
continue to be used to buttress fallacious arguments. There 
will be the initial advantage in this new attack on temperament 
that the same mistake need not be made that was made in study- 
ing instincts, namely, the mistake of thinking that hypotheses 
are data. 

Volitional Patterns Revealed by the Will-Profile/' Journal of 
Experimental Psychology, III, 281. 


The problem connected with those similarities of behavior 
called imitation has occupied the attention of most men who have 
written in the field of social psychology. Emphasized and 
slightly enlarged, the concept has given its name to whole 
schools of psychological and philosophical speculation. Formerly 
imitation was widely held to be a primary instinct, taking its 
place alongside the old standbys, pugnacity and fear. Recent 
writing on this subject has tended to introduce certain modifica- 
tions. McDougall, for example, is unwilling to write it down as 
an instinct, but has worked out a sort of imaginary switching 
arrangement by means of which the witnessing of the " expres- 
sion" of an instinct may cause the same instinct to function in 
the beholder of the expression. Thus, while fear has its adequate 
and normal stimulus, the sight of a frightened person has a 
tendency on its own behalf to arouse the instinct of flight, which 
is the motor side of fear. 

It is the purpose of this article to give an exposition of a point 
of view differing somewhat from those preceding. Imitation is a 
fact or, better, it is a name given to many types of fact. It is 
observed in many varieties of social experience, and must be 
dealt with in any thoroughgoing statement of human nature. 
But the thesis here presented is that imitation is not only a result 
of other causal or predisposing conditions, but that so-called 
imitation arises as a result from several widely different types of 
mechanism. Moreover, the same causes or mechanisms or proc- 
esses which result in imitative behavior can be shown to result also 
in behavior that is in no sense imitative. 

Imitation must clearly involve similarity in behavior to some 
copy or stimulus. To imitate is to behave like another, though 
all such likeness may not be imitation. There may be imitation 
of the activities of another, as when we copy another's dress, 
reproduce his movements, think thoughts like his, or have 



feelings and emotions which resemble those of another. Such, 
at least, is the usual and uncritical assumption. 

The functional treatment of imitation, most fully presented in 
the writing of the French sociologists and engagingly stated by 
Professor Ross, assigns all these types of imitation to a single 
cause or mechanism. It is assumed that there is a tendency to 
imitate that is normal to human nature. Professor Ross goes 
further and assumes that suggestion is indissolubly linked up 
with the phenomenon. Man is a suggestible animal, and ideas, 
feelings, and movements are all thought of as suggestions, and 
produce in turn imitation. The behavior of crowds and mobs, 
the spread of fashions and conventions, the social heritage of 
customs, the conscious copying of new forms, and the unconscious 
imitation of gestures, dialects, and language elements all these 
are assigned to the single and simple impulse of imitation, which 
comes to us through the avenue of suggestion. 

Upon critical examination of the facts it seems necessary to 
make certain distinctions between different types of imitative 
behavior. There are at least three distinct and divergent sorts 
of reaction, which may be illustrated by three different types 
of phenomena. 

First, the behavior of crowds and mobs. A panic in a theater 
is picturesquely described as a sort of mental or emotional 
contagion. At first only a few are frightened, but their screams 
and frantic efforts to escape may be quickly taken over by others 
until the whole company is seized with uncontrollable fear. The 
anger of an excited mob is another instance of the same mech- 
anism. Men find themselves in a mob by accident or join it 
from curiosity, but later they describe their experience as being 
"carried away" by the emotion of anger. The voluminous 
literature on the behavior of crowds includes many descriptions 
of religious revivals, where those who come to scoff remain to 
pray, sucked into the vortex of religious emotion owing to the 
tendency to imitate the behavior of those who are observed. 
Into this class will also fall the panics and examples of collective 
enthusiasm which do not depend on the actual physical presence 
of the members of a group. Later in this discussion it will 
appear why this class should also include cases of hypnotism, in 
which one person responds to the suggestion of another when the 
inhibitions are removed by previously established rapport. 


These examples, which could be multiplied, are clearly casee of 
imitation, and the interpretation of them seems to be in general 
quite identical, but as will presently appear, the central explana- 
tion lies in the previously acquired habitual attitudes which 
receive a characteristic release. 

Another quite distinct type of imitative behavior is the 
imitation of dialects and tricks of speech, which is a widespread 
if not universal phenomenon, and in the same category belong 
even more important imitative changes, which account for the 
acquisition of opinions, ideals, and social and political views, 
when one lives among other people and is in communication with 
them. Evil communications corrupt good manners, and this is 
true imitation, h Tarde's theory of criminality included this type 
of experience as well as the next or third category. 

There remains a type of behavior differing from both the 
others. It is typified in fashion and exhibited in all forms of con- 
scious functional activity. Women who follow the new styles 
are hardly swept off their feet in an unconscious way, as the 
members of a mob are, nor do they gradually realize that they 
have bobbed their hair or shortened their skirts without knowing 
it. Much of our imitative life is of this character. It is a con- 
scious copying. The model presented appeals to us first or last, 
and we go and do likewise. The interpretation of this type of 
behavior seems to be quite different from that of either of the 
other two. 

If now we compare and contrast these three sorts of activity, 
it appears that the first kind, typified by panics and mob 
behavior, is characterized by two adjectives, that is, it is imme- 
diate and unwitting. Sometimes it is spoken of as unconscious, 
but it is straining the word "unconscious" to say that an angry 
mob is not conscious. In typical mob behavior, however, it is 
not a deliberate purpose, but rather a partially realized activity 
which is most characteristic. Moreover, it is immediate or quick. 
Under excitement of a panic, there is not time to think and 
deliberate, for if one does stop and think and deliberate, he 
often finds himself acting differently from the others. 

The second kind, typified by the acquisition of a dialect, when 
it is not planned, differs fundamentally from the first. It is 
unintentional. It is often spoken of as unconscious; it is cer- 
tainly unwitting. But, unlike the first type, it is slow. It takes 


weeks or months sometimes, and certainly does not occur with 
the picturesque suddenness of the mob-activity type of imitation, 
though in cases of religious conversion, which are marginal to 
this, the climax may occur with a certain dramatic suddenness. 
In such cases we assume precedent processes. 

The third type differs from both of the others in that it is 
conscious, planned, intended, purposed. To buy a motor car 
because a neighbor has one or to acquire a more expensive car 
like that of our social model, is to be under the influence of a dis- 
tinct process, quite easily marked off from immediate, unwitting 
imitation and also from the slow, unwitting type. 

We have, then, the problem of interpretation which will reveal 
how these three distinct sorts of behavior come into existence. 
They appear not to be the result of the same motives or the same 
processes. Moreover, they are all complex and ought to yield 
to an attempt to analyze them. 

When we examine carefully the first type it appears that mob 
activity involves a certain release of existing, that is of pre- 
existing, attitudes, habits, tendencies. The members of a theater 
party who are seized with fright are assumed to have already 
existing a fear of death and fire. Sudden alarm calls out, making 
it kinetic and overpowering, the tendency to save oneself from 
this danger. In the angry mob the situation does not differ. 
The fury of the members of the mob likewise rests upon already 
existing hostility, however latent or inactive this feeling may 
have been previously to the excitement. It is both picturesque 
and accurate to speak of the contagion of fury, but this contagion 
is the arousal of hostility and not the inculcation of it. The 
hostile attitudes are evoked, made active and kinetic. White 
men have been aroused to extremes of emotion quite surprising 
to themselves when in a mob attacking Negroes, and in the 
Chicago riots the Negroes found themselves in a mob on more 
than one occasion, but it was a mob of Negroes. I can find no 
record of a Negro being swept into the contagion of a mob of 
white people attacking a member of his own race. 

Consider the case of hypnotism. Under the abnormally sug- 
gestive condition of complete hypnotic control the subject 
responds immediately to what he is told to do. The subject will 
masticate a piece of paper and call it good, if he is told that it is 
candy or beefsteak, but if a person without musical training be 


sent to the piano, when hypnotized, and told to play a sonata, 
he will not, for he cannot. The abnormal condition makes it 
easy to release existing attitudes, but it does not create new ones. 
A Trilby, when hypnotized, will sing and sing better than ever, 
for suggestion may intensify a potential activity. 

We have then this formulation of the "law" of immediate, 
unwitting imitation exemplified in the crowd behavior: Imitation 
in crowd behavior is limited to the release of attitudes or tendencies 
already existing and which are not new. 

The immediate responses to suggestion, which are most striking 
in hypnotized subjects, depend upon extreme dissociation, and 
are, therefore, the same type of behavior as crowd activity. 
Immediate response to a stimulus without inhibiting tendencies 
is almost a definition of suggestibility. The important point 
here is that the behavior of an excited member of a mob is pre- 
cisely like the behavior of a hypnotized person. It is, therefore, 
not limited to crowd behavior, but crowd behavior is a special 
case in the whole general class of suggestion responses, and it is 
important to observe that the hypnotized person rarely imitates; 
he usually obeys. It looks like imitation when the stimulus 
and response are identical or similar, but if the operator says, 
"Jump," and the subject jumps, no one whose mind is really 
alert would call it imitation. 

There is another type of behavior which requires mention. 
Cases of the sudden imitation of social models by little children 
are frequent in the literature, and, while by no means wholly 
authenticated, probably do occur. Whether they be entirely 
new or the result of the process set forth in our second type, is 
at present an open question. 

If the above "law" be true, there is no justification for the 
older formulation that the ideas and feelings come into the mind 
from without. If we inquire into the explanation of crowd 
behavior, it is apparent that we will need to know the past history 
or previous experience of the members of a mob, so that we may 
understand what attitudes are present that can be released. The 
one point here is that crowd behavior produces nothing new but is 
limited to the intensification and activation of the habitual. 
There is a further point of the highest importance, namely, the 
failure of one emotional expression to produce its like in another, 
but this will be discussed later. 


The first, or mob, type of imitation, being limited to previously 
existing habits, differs fundamentally from the second type, which 
consists essentially in new acquisitions. As stated above, this is 
typified by the widely observed and familiar phenomenon of 
acquiring a dialect, speech habits, tricks of manner, and gestures, 
as well as opinions, ideals, and beliefs. We have called this the 
slow, unwitting type. The writer, after some weeks in France, 
discovered with surprise that he was shrugging his shoulders like 
those he talked to. It was a new gesture and had been acquired 
without intention or knowledge. An even more striking experi- 
ence was to have adopted, while living with an uncivilized tribe 
where the practice was general, a rather inelegant gesture, which 
consisted of pointing with the lips instead of the hand. The lips 
were protruded in an exaggerated fashion toward the object 
indicated. One could hardly imagine oneself wishing to acquire 
this gesture, and when a friend one day told me I was doing it, 
I denied the statement, but a little later, when caught in the act, 
had to confess. It is very easy to see how different this type of 
imitation is from the one just discussed. Here is no sudden 
release of an old attitude but a slow acquisition of a new one. 
There is a story in the Bible of a debtor who owed a great sum, 
which was forgiven him after he had made a plea. Instead of 
being merciful, he went out and treated cruelly a man who owed 
him a much smaller amount. This seems to fall into the second 
category. The servants of cruel masters should be merciful, 
but they tend to become cruel. In Kingsley's Water Babies 
the little chimney sweep, after being beaten and kicked by 
the master sweep, sobbed himself to sleep on a pile of straw and 
dreamed of the time when he should be a master sweep and be 
able to kick little boys around. The point receives hyperbolic 
emphasis in a ridiculous story by Mark Twain. An infidel and a 
priest on board ship fell into an argument about religion, during 
which both men became very angry. They separated in a bad 
humor. Next morning they met on deck and walked straight 
up to each other. The infidel held out his hand, which the priest 
cordially grasped. Said the infidel to the priest, "Father, I wish 
to apologize for my hasty words. I have been thinking all night 
about what you said, and I have decided that you are right. I 
am going to join the church." The priest replied, "I have 


thought all night about what you said, and have decided to quit 
the ministry. 1 ' 

It is clear that we must seek for some other process than the 
evoking of an existing attitude if we are to understand such 
behavior. The key seems to lie in the normal human tendency 
to converse with oneself, that is, to stimulate oneself and to 
answer one's own stimulation, in which process one takes the role 
of the other, and new attitudes from the other enter one's own 

This analysis of the process of conversing with oneself has 
been most elaborately set forth by George H. Mead. 1 Social 
experience consists in gestures and sentences directed to others, 
and in answering gestures and sentences addressed to us from 
others. We are stimulated and we respond. Others are stimu- 
lated by us and respond to us, the social action consisting in the 
peculiarity that the response to a stimulus is also ipso facto a 
stimulus to a response. Each gesture, therefore, is both answer 
and query, both stimulus and response. When, however, the 
person is alone this same type of activity tends to go on, following 
the pattern of associated behavior. The individual then comes 
to stimulate himself and to answer his own stimulation, and to 
proceed to respond to that answer, after which he goes on to 
answer that response. As far back as Plato is found the recogni- 
tion of the fact that thinking is a conversation with oneself. 

It should require little argument to show that the individual 
person can stimulate himself, though the statement is regarded by 
one popular writer as an obvious impossibility. It would be 
agreed that a man can shave himself, scratch himself, or pinch 
himself. He cannot, save metaphorically, kick himself, but 
Lewis Carroll says that Alice slapped herself for cheating herself 
when she was playing croquet against herself. Talking to oneself 
is not an unusual but a normal phenomenon, and in the reflection 
which goes on following an emotional social contact, it is normal 
to live over again the whole scene. I think of what I said, then 
I think of what he said in reply to me, after which I recall my 
reply and his answer, and then perhaps I think of the very clever 
remark I could have made if I had had time to work it out. And 

1 Mead's discussion is at last available in a posthumous volume: Mind, 
Self, and Society, Chicago, 1934. 


so the conversation with oneself goes on including the responses 
of the other, which are lived over again. 

Here we have an approach to the solution of the slow, unwitting 
imitation. To live over again the conversation or conflict is to 
say the words of the other in something resembling the same tone 
and with the same attitude. It is literally to take the role of the 
other, to play the other's part, to assume the other's character. 
This would make it clear how the infidel might come to think 
like his clerical antagonist. It is utterly unlike mob activity, 
having little in it of the release of stored-up latent attitudes, but 
it is the gradual taking over of new ones, which, indeed, may be 
organizations of old elements. It is the normal human tendency 
of playing the role of the other when we reflect on past social 
experiences and relive the past. 

A "law" of this slow, unwitting type of so-called imitation we 
may then attempt to formulate as follows : When in rehearsing the 
pasty emotional situations are re-enacted, taking the role of another 
sometimes gives rise to a new attitude which is so like the attitude 
of the other person that it is often called imitation. 

It is evident that we still require further analysis and observa- 
tion to reveal just how this process can operate. In extreme 
cases, such as pointing with the lips and learning to shrug the 
shoulders, there is involved a form of attention to minimal 
stimulations which should be the object of research. 

This process has been fully treated by Mead and others under 
the head of redintegration. The incomplete present act tends to 
be filled out when tension exists, and this filling out is an integrat- 
ing anew, that is, a redintegration. It is often called imagination, 
and includes everything within that category and perhaps a great 
deal more. 

The third type of imitation differs from both the others in that 
it is conscious, volitional, and planned. Many young people go 
to college because their friends go. Some go to the opera for the 
same reason. Others buy listerine. The explanatory principle 
here must involve an underlying purpose or ambition which is 
furthered or achieved by the imitated activity. To go to college 
gives one a standing, a promise of success, or four years of pleasant 
loafing, and this ambition or desire takes its particular form 
because of the models that are presented. It is not the imitated 
act that is the center of interest, but rather the act is the instru- 


mental activity which forwards or realizes the already existing 

The attempt to write out a "law" for the third type of imitation 
would result in a statement somewhat as follows : When a purpose 
or an ambition appears to be achieved or furthered by acting like 
another , the result is the phenomenon known as conscious imitation. 

The three types of imitation, then, rest upon three different pre- 
conditions. To understand the first we must know what are the 
habitual attitudes that are ready to be suddenly released. To 
explain the second we must take account of the gestures and 
opinions or convictions of others which, by rehearsing, we come 
to approximate, while to interpret the third we must know the 
ambitions or unfulfilled desires which the mental and muscular 
activities are assumed to consummate. 

All three types of activity are referred to as imitation, and it is 
confusing to deny the applicability of the word. Yet the imita- 
tion is a mere accident, in the old scholastic meaning of accident, 
a non-essential result of the three distinct processes already 
described. For it seems clear upon reflection that the same type 
of experience which gives rise to the three sorts of so-called imita- 
tion that is to say, the same mechanisms may produce, and 
more often than not do produce, types of behavior to which no 
one could assign this term. 

Let us return to the first type of activity the quick, unwitting 
imitation, so-called. It is a sudden release of movements. It 
produces the phenomena of emotional and muscular uniformity. 
Fear sweeps over a crowd, or anger, or generosity, but all that 
happens is a sudden release, and more often than not, the sudden 
release is of the opposite sort. In the Cleveland Convention of 
1924 all the delegations were drawn into a kind of mob uniformity, 
with the one stubborn exception of the delegation from Wisconsin. 
These were not for Coolidge, and neither bands nor banners could 
make them march. There were stampedes of many kinds at 
the New York Democratic Convention of the same year, but the 
waves of McAdoo enthusiasm left the Smith delegates unmoved, 
and vice versa. It is a bit superficial to say, as is often said, 
that there is a tendency when one emotion is expressed to feel 
within ourselves the same emotion. Ask the disappointed and 
forlorn lover whether devotion always inspires the same. A 
courtship would be very easy if this were true, perhaps too easy 


to be exciting. Professor McDougall should witness a dignified 
and corpulent gentleman fall down suddenly on the sidewalk. 
Such a person often has emotions, but the spectators' emotions 
are probably quite different, and may generate in turn a third 
type of emotion in the unfortunate man. The case of the girl 
who, when the theater fire was started, did not run but began to 
play on the piano, shows that sudden release in an emergency is 
not necessarily always /of the same sort as the copy. Persons in 
a mob or crowd will act alike if previously existing latent attitudes 
are similar and can be simultaneously released, but the members 
will act very differently if they possess different attitudes, and this 
happens quite as often as not. 

Likewise with the second type. To argue with another person 
means to think it over and take his role, but whether we come to 
think like him or not depends on too many factors to make the 
outcome sure. Not every argument between a Catholic and a 
Protestant results in both parties changing their faith. Some 
eastern people, but by no means all, go to California and come to 
take on the native race prejudice toward Orientals. It is, there- 
fore, of the highest importance to observe that the same process 
that results in so-called imitative behavior, results equally often 
in utterly unlike action. 

The case of conscious copying is even easier to state. Someone 
starts a fashion of bobbing hair, rouging cheeks, penciling the 
brows, and painting the lips. At least the fashion gets started, 
whether it can ever be traced to any one source or not. Now 
these fashions come to be imitated, but not by everybody, nor 
all at once. Painted lips have their charm if not overdone, and 
would doubtless be more attractive if some women had better 
illumination at their dressing tables. Many imitate the painted 
lips, but many do not. And why not? One said to me, "I'm 
not that kind of a girl." And this is the real underlying explana- 
tion of all conscious copying. If she is that kind of girl, she will 
imitate what seems to her to advance her status in the desired 
direction. The law student will let his hair grow long like the 
famous advocate, the young medical student will grow a pathetic 
beard in imitation of some famous surgeon. It is the ambition 
or ideal lying behind the whole which explains the activity, 
and this produces imitative behavior only when it finds the 
pattern instrumentally attractive. When I see a well-set-up man 


walking very erectly, I find myself squaring my shoulders in imita- 
tion, but when I see a person with an unattractive stoop, I find 
that, instead of stooping, I am reminded of my defect, and I 
square my shoulders. When Queen Victoria heard a joke at 
which people laughed, but of which she disapproved, she used 
to say with a severe look, " We are not amused." The conscious 
copying, then, is a mere irrelevant detail. To see a girl using her 
make-up in public hardly incites any man to want to shave. 

It is, then, the conclusion of this discussion that imitation is 
hardly a justifiable psychological category. We have seen that 
habitual attitudes produce crowd imitation, that talking to one's 
self produces another type, and conscious choice a third. On the 
other hand, the releasing of old attitudes, talking to oneself, and 
conscious choice, all three result in behavior that no one would 
call imitation. Imitation is, then, a mere accident of these three 
quite distinct types of mechanism. There is no instinct to imi- 
tate. There is no tendency to take over immediately a like 
thought or feeling, and all the uniformities which have received 
loosely the name of imitation are to be interpreted in quite the 
same way as the non-uniformities growing out of the same 

Imitation, then, is a result, but an irrelevant result. It is an 
apparent but not a real result in a causal sequence. It cannot be 
brought inside of any general statement or psychological law. 
The contrary opinion seems to result from that type of error 
which has given us so many wrong conclusions in the past, namely, 
defective analysis. 


This discussion of the origin of punishment is undertaken 
with a view of obtaining some light on a difficult subject by means 
of the genetic method of approach. Our institutions are so 
complex and our tendency to idealize the existent is so inveterate 
that we are driven from one theory of punishment to another in 
the effort to justify what may, perhaps, have no real justification. 

It is believed that a clear statement of the origin of punish- 
ment could throw some light on the nature of the punishing 
attitude and in another chapter the effort will be made to state 
the psychological corollary of the view here advanced. 

Punishment is nowhere regarded as a specific instinct. It is 
not a part of the " original nature of man." Its manifestations 
are sometimes said to grow out of the instinct of pugnacity and its 
accompaniment, the emotion of anger. However, even these 
instinctive reactions are not themselves simple and direct but 
are, in their turn, dependent on the thwarting of other instincts 
and impulses. Fighting and anger are social in their nature, 
lequiring for their arousal the presence of another animal of 
the same or related species which enters into some sort of competi- 
tion or opposition and attempts to check the carrying out of 
any one of the stronger impulses. Hunger, thirst, the desire 
for the possession of any object, or the sex instinct, can, most 
obviously, be the occasion of the arousal of the fighting reaction 
if a sufficiently serious check is encountered. 

But the fighting reaction is not punishment. There is a 
popular use of the word in which one prize fighter is said to 
receive " punishment" from the other, and the " natural punish- 
ments" are referred to by Herbert Spencer, but for such uses of 
the term there is only a metaphorical justification. Neither 
combat nor calamity is sufficiently social in character to deserve 
the designation of punishment. 

The common statement is that punishment is derived from 
this feeling of anger and reaction of fighting in a direct fashion. 



MacDougall, 1 for example, follows Laing in deriving the whole 
punitive situation from the " primal law" which is thought of 
as arising out of a situation within a small tribe of kinsmen in 
which the patriarch, who wished to have control of the females 
of the group, drove off the younger males of the trib6 as they 
grew up and forced those who remained to submit to his direction 
and control. The result of disregarding these directions was, in 
every case, punishment by the patriarch, who might go to any 
length until submission was reached. In short, punishment is 
held to follow directly upon the opposition, by any one, to the 
operations of the sex instinct. 

The same general notion appears in Pollock and Maitland, 2 
in which the original situation is described as one in which each 
member of the group was his own avenger and the position 
defended that punishment follows directly upon the opposition 
of any member of the group to the serious purposes and plans of 
another. Naturally, the place for the origin of the institution 
of punishment will, accordingly, be found in the tribe. An eye 
for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is held to be the natural and 
normal way in which a member of the group answers the action of 
another in opposing his acts. 

The analogy which suggested this theory is, as will be readily 
seen, the phenomenon of struggle for leadership that occurs 
occasionally among gregarious animals. Rival candidates for 
the leadership of a herd of elephants have been observed to fight 
desperately. The defeated one wanders off to lead a life of 
comparative solitude as a "rogue." But it is not difficult to see 
that such an effort to banish one member of the group is a very 
different sort of undertaking from the normal punitive situation. 
In fact, there is very little resemblance between a duel to the 
death and any normal procedure of punishment. In punishment 
there is an endeavor to be fair and just which the old account 
does not fully recognize. There is, even in extreme punishments, 
a mental measurement of the offense with the penalty, and some 
rough equation results. But in the " primal law" situation there 
is only the deadly struggle between infuriated and excited rivals. 

There is abundant reason for questioning whether anyone 
inside the primitive group was ever punished, at least by those 

1 Social Psychology, p. 282. 

2 History of the English Law. 


within his own tribe. In an instinctive way the members of the 
group are bound together and in the most homogeneous groups 
they do not punish each other. Present-day people of some 
uncivilized tribes do not punish their children. The writer, 
during a residence of several years among the Bantus of the 
Upper Congo River, in which time the people were under constant 
observation, failed to observe a single case of the punishment 
of a child. This is not a deliberate or reflective process but, 
rather, traditional and uncritical. The child, in a small com- 
munity that is homogeneous and in a situation where outside 
influences do not penetrate, will find himself fitting into the social 
situation where he grows up and is without the stimulus to 
commit acts of an antisocial character. 

And when, by any chance, such an act is committed, it is 
highly improbable that it will arouse any resentment whatever; 
in the event that it does, there is no remedy, and the tribe simply 
does nothing save where the offense is so serious as to break all 
bonds. The situation is analogous to that in which one breaks 
or damages his own property by accident; it is regrettable, but 
there is no remedy save an imprecation. It is impossible for 
some people to thrust a knife into their own flesh. Somehow the 
weapon refuses to enter. The primitive tribe is a unit in a com- 
parable sense. Every member is to be credited with the good 
deeds of the whole and to be blamed for the faults of any one. 
In extreme cases expulsion from the tribe might take place. 

The Congo State government in the old days was never 
at a loss in the effort to apprehend criminals, for while the direct 
pursuit of a native in the forest would be like trying to overtake 
an antelope, such a chase is quite unnecessary. The tribe is a 
unit to such an extent that it is only necessary to send to the 
village for the chief, whose dignity will not permit him to flee in 
any ordinary emergency, and to cause the arrest and detention 
of this chief, if necessary, after which the man who is wanted 
always comes in voluntarily and surrenders. The only alternative 
to doing so would be to leave the country entirely; for existence 
would be unbearable with the head of the tribe in bondage on 
account of the offending member's failure to give himself up. 

The point in this connection is that physical force is not the 
means of securing this supreme degree of sociality which will 
lead a man to give himself up to a fate that is desperate in the 


extreme. The earlier theories on this point are probably errone- 
ous. The typical group control did not depend on force. The 
fact that the military leader of a warlike people was often, per- 
haps usually, a man of great strength, has led to the totally 
unwarranted inference that the rule was to the one who was 
physically the strongest. The savage is very ready to admire 
physical strength, but the leadership of one who is physically 
strong will not depend on this fact entirely or chiefly. He who 
rules must do so on account of some measure of wisdom in 
ruling and on account of the support he has from the loyalty of 
the rest of the group. Achilles is the greatest warrior among the 
besiegers, but the leadership lies not with him who sulks in his 
tent or who is indifferent to the death of his own people in unequal 
strife. Those who have assigned the dominant part in early 
group control to force, physically understood, have failed to 
understand that the sneer and scorn of those within our own 
group are infinitely more powerful forces. 

An incident personally observed on the Upper Congo River 
illustrates quite adequately the part played by public opinion 
in group control. A gigantic young warrior, under the influence 
of foreign and alien ideas, which were beginning to appear in 
the community following the European occupation, violated 
some minor point in the native system of taboos and was quite 
unrepentant when attention was called to it. The matter came 
to the attention of the oldest woman of the tribe, who set out at 
once in indignation to find him. He hurried off to his hut, but 
she followed him to the very door, uttering all the while a stream 
of indignant protest to which the man vainly attempted to respond 
but without opportunity of interrupting the unbroken course of 
her invective. He went into his hut and she crouched at the door ; 
he retreated into the inner room, but she only raised her voice. 
The end of the unequal contest was reached when he came to the 
door, hesitated a moment, and then ran off into the forest, leav- 
ing the field to the victor. But the victor was a woman nearly 
a hundred years old, gray-haired, toothless, shrunken, and lean, 
so frail that a blow from the fist of the warrior could have 
crushed her skull. She was the incarnation of public opinion 
and there was more power in her voice than in his muscle. Nor 
would it be just to say that it was his fear of the consequences 
which restrained him from resorting to force to rid himself of 


the troublesome adversary. The fact is that the force of the 
expressed common will is so strong that it does not occur to the 
individual to contest it. Obedience is unreflective and almost 
instinctive. For just as the parental impulse urges the mother 
to care for her child, so the child's tendencies impel him to 
respond to the mother. And there is no need to explain why the 
child obeys the mother, the phenomenon requiring explanation 
being the failure on the part of the child to respond, when this 
does occur. 

It seems clear to the writer that the explanation of the tension 
and friction in modern groups, including family groups, is most 
easily found in the complexity of the groups in which modern 
children grow up. An analogy to the primitive simplicity of 
conduct is to be found in the absence of errors in the speech of 
primitive children. If a language is pure and has no foreign 
idioms and if the children are not in the company of those who 
speak other languages or dialects, then it is probable that they 
will make no errors in grammar. My own observations confirm 
this conclusion. During my residence among the Congo tribes 
no child was ever heard by me to make a mistake in grammar. 
The influences are all homogeneous, the stimuli are all consistent, 
and there is no occasion for an erroneous reaction in the matter 
of the vocal gestures called language. The language is almost 
perfect in its regularity. The real phenomenon that demands 
explanation is that a mistake should be made at all, for the 
normal method of response will be to adopt the conventional 
words if these are received from a consistent source. 

It is confidently believed that a careful report of the facts 
and conditions among present-day savages would establish 
the non-existence of the punishment of children among many 
of them. V. Stefansson says: "We count it as one of the chief 
triumphs of the four-year expedition of the American Museum of 
Natural History to the Eskimo that we discovered why it is that 
children are not punished ; for such immaterial things is the money 
of scientific institutions expended I" 1 He then gives the two 
previous explanations that have been assigned, namely, that the 
children are so good that they do not need it, and secondly, that 
the Eskimos are so fond of their children that they cannot bear 
to punish them. Both of these explanations are rejected in 
1 STEFANSSON, V., My Life with the Eskimo, p. 395. 


favor of the theory that the belief of the natives that every child 
is the reincarnation of the spirit of an honored ancestor is the 
real explanation of the forbearance of the parents under cir- 
cumstances which the white man often found very trying. 
Whether this explanation points out the real cause of the phe- 
nomenon or whether it was a theoretical formulation which 
grew up to account for the practice and to justify it, is not impor- 
tant for this discussion. The main thing to observe is that there 
is no punishment of children among these people. With the 
coming of the white man, the group will be more and more 
subject to outside influences and there will be increasing oppor- 
tunities for tension; but during the ages when they were living 
their own life, there was no thought of punishing the children. 

Stefansson also deals at length with the subject of the immense 
power of public opinion in the Eskimo society. Resort to 
force is so rare as to be almost negligible. They are a unit. 
Rule is not by force, though there is always a leader. The 
authority of the leader depends, not on his strength, but on the 
extent of his influence with the larger group. 1 

Absence of punishment is also the characteristic of the Japanese 
system of governing children. President Sato of Sapporo College 
in a conversation with the writer says that the Japanese do not 
punish their children even yet, although the foreign influences 
are very pronounced at the present time in Japan. But for a 
long time the system was homogeneous and unified, and the 
momentum of it endures until the present. It is true that 
President Sato considers that the Japanese are too indulgent with 
their children and that they should exercise more careful control 
over them, but the fact of the absence of a system of physical 
punishments for children is highly significant. 

The solidarity of the truly primitive group in this respect 
can, therefore, hardly be overstated. There is no remedy 
for an infraction of custom by a member of a group. No physical 
force is used or can be used. The whole of the remedy is vocal 
disapproval, reproach, and scorn. But for reasons that will later 
appear in this discussion, it is contended that scorn and ridicule 
are the most powerful weapons that are available in the service 
of conformity. 2 

1 Op. dt., p. 365. 

1 The Roman Assembly of the Tribes could not inflict death, only a fine, 


This much is, therefore, clear from the discussion so far. 
Punishment could not have arisen within the early group, owing 
to the absolutely social character of their early organization and 
the absence of physical force from their methods of dealing with 
one another. It is recognized that offenses might occur, and did 
sometimes occur, which would be so serious as to dissolve the 
bonds entirely; but as will be seen, such a situation was met by 
a mode of reaction that is not properly called punishment. 

How, then, did punishment arise? If it did not begin inside 
the group in some sort of formal infliction of penalty or violence 
or force, did it originate in the reactions against the enemies of 
the tribe? This question will now be considered. 

The really primitive group, we have seen, was probably bound 
together by ties which made it impossible to proceed in any way 
against one of the number for an offense that should work 
injury to the offender. The opposing theory finds the origin of 
punishment in the wars with the enemies of the tribes. Wester- 
marck thinks that the instinct of resentment, in most cases 
" sympathetic resentment/' but always some strong emotional 
state of mind, is the key to the understanding of the punishing 
reactions. Hobhouse finds a cognitive basis for the origin of 
punishment in the concepts that are formed when the evil effect 
of the offense is observed. Steimmetz traces it to the expansion 
of personality that follows the retaliation against an affront. 

But it seems quite unnecessary to go beyond the simple, 
inherited reaction of all gregarious animals of the carnivorous 
type, all females with young, and even insects of the social kind, 
as bees and wasps. There is a natural, inherited reaction of 
defense against the attack of a stranger or an enemy. The 
savage fights anyone from the outside who has attacked his 
child or his brother or his father or any of his kindred or clan, 
and does so just as a hive of bees or a nest of hornets responds to 
a disturbance of a hostile nature. The reaction is not due to 
reflection, does not arise out of concepts of justice or right or 
property, and is not due to any antecedent feeling. The begin- 
ning of the whole process is this reaction of a protective character 
absolutely essential to the preservation of the group, which 

for the life of a Roman was sacred inside the walls. (MAINE, Ancient Law, 
p. 375). Bid the military court could inflict the death penalty. 


takes into account only the dangerous character of the enemy and 
the need of securing his annihilation. 

The fixed character of the primitive group is one of its most 
striking characteristics. In general, it is almost true that the 
only way to become a member of the group is to arrange to be 
born into it. There is, to be sure, a natural tendency toward 
the enlargement of the social group, but for the primitive man, 
even the nature peoples of the present day, it is often true 
that the whole world is divided into just two classes, namely: 
kin who cannot become enemies and enemies who can never 
become kin. The former are never liable to punishment for 
reasons shown, and the latter are equally exempt from punishment 
because they are the object of attack in war. 

The attack on an enemy or a stranger who offends is often 
made when the dictates of prudence or self-interest would make 
another course of action desirable, but the tribe is without any 
other alternative. Just as a rattlesnake exhausts his venom 
in futile strikes and is captured with impunity, so many a native 
tribe would have been able to maintain itself and get ahead if 
it had been able to take a cool and rational attitude toward 
attacks, but this is not possible. The attack is made because 
there is nothing else to do. 

Just what punishment is will presently appear, but it is 
evident that an attack which ceases only with the annihilation 
of the enemy, which is without any relation to the nature or 
gravity of the offense committed, and which is directed toward 
those who are thought of in the most abstract way as enemies, 
is not yet the sort of reaction that we call punishment. It may 
be called a war, a feud, a vendetta, or a foray, but the disregard 
of consequences, the lack of measure or restraint, the wholly 
impersonal relation that is assumed, marks the phenomenon off 
from true punishment. 

The literature of feuds and of the vicarious infliction of suffer- 
ing on the innocent members of the group is voluminous, but 
the following personally observed circumstance will bring out 
the facts that it is desired to emphasize in this connection. A 
native woman of the Upper Congo secured the remission of the 
payment of dowry and returned in a perfectly regular and legal 
manner to her father, but passed with unseemly haste to the 
home of the co-respondent. The deserted husband, in a fit of 


jealousy, came from his distant village with a party and proceeded 
in the darkness to fire the hut in which the couple were sleeping, 
but, as it was afterwards explained, included some near-by huts 
because the huts of the enemy were not very well built. The 
next morning saw a counter foray into the villages of the house 
burners, but this attack was directed against a remote portion 
of the enemy's village in order that they might be taken by sur- 
prise, as the news of the affair had not spread. Accordingly, 
an approach was made and a volley fired at close range, killing a 
man and a woman who did not know that there was any trouble 
between the two communities. After this, slaughter went on 
merrily for several months. 

Now, it is significant for this discussion to note that the group 
has no censure for those who are the occasion for trouble of this 
kind. The woman whose action caused the death of several of 
her tribe was not reproached, even by those who were the 
heaviest losers in the fighting. The actions of the quarrelsome 
members of the tribe, in so far as they affect outsiders, are 
accepted unquestionably and the whole tribe joins in the natural, 
normal, and often joyously exciting reaction called out by 
pugnacity. Nor is there any blame for the enemy. He is con- 
ceived as doing his part. He is not supposed to take into account 
the interest of a group other than his own ; he is thought of in the 
most abstract fashion as a target and source of danger, game and 
hunter in one, and with nothing even resembling a fellow feeling. 

There was a little Congo lad who owned a chicken, which one 
day appeared with only one leg because the boy felt obliged to 
practice economy by eating one leg and letting the rest of the fowl 
wait ! This killing on the installment plan is hardly to be thought 
of as cruelty, but is due to the fact that the fowl is viewed from 
the point of view of food alone. The lad would as soon have 
thought of showing mercy to a potato or a mango as to a chicken, 
for mercy and consideration belong to the members of your own 
family and are unthinkable in any other situation. The cannibal 
tribes, which are not the lowest but represent the highest develop- 
ment among the peoples of the Congo valley, often stick the 
living victim full of bamboo skewers to preempt portions of the 
meat before the slaughter! 

A social attitude toward a member of another group is, there- 
fore, unthinkable. A snake, a leopard, a slaughtered sheep, or 


a crushed worm is not more abstractly treated. It is felt that 
an attitude of this sort cannot by any stretch of meaning be taken 
to include punishment. 

The conclusion is, therefore, that there was no punishment 
of anyone in a thoroughly primitive society. The whole universe 
was divided into two classes for the theoretically primitive 
savage, and these are the members of his own group whom he 
does not ever think of striking or punishing in any way, and the 
rest of the world who are to be watched carefully at all times but 
who are to be destroyed if they are found in an attitude of attack. 
The theoretical primitive man is not observable. Present-day 
savages are not primitive. 

A closely analogous situation is found in the attitude of 
civilized nations in their international relationships. The 
citizens of a foreign country, so long as they remain on their 
own territory, are not subject to punishment by any other nation 
whose citizens may have suffered injury. If an expedition is 
made across the border and damage is done to the goods and 
persons of another nation, there is no punishment by the nation 
that receives the injury. Any attempt at redress by a foreign 
nation inside our territory is war. There are only two courses 
open to an offended people in such a case. They can send an 
attacking force across the border to avenge the wrong, but this 
is not punishment; it is war. The only other course open to the 
injured government is to appeal in a friendly way for the govern- 
ment of the offenders to take cognizance of the offense and do 
justice. But clearly here the injured nation is not punishing 
anyone. They may appeal to another to punish, but this appeal 
is a friendly and social act. Punishment must, therefore, be 
administered by the group to which the offender belongs. But we 
have seen that when the group is homogeneous it is impossible 
for the category of punishment to have any place. There are 
groups organized within civilized society which are so thor- 
oughly social that there is no thought of punishment within the 
circle, as for example, a college faculty or a social club. 

For a situation which would make the attitude of formal 
punishment possible, we must have a society that has grown 
so complex that there are varying degrees of relationship and 
of fellow feeling. This is, to be sure, the natural result of a 
prosperous community for, as populations multiply and it 


becomes necessary for part of the company to migrate in order 
to find more room, it is inevitable that some distant tribes should 
also be distant kin and the reaction of enmity would tend to 
become modified. In case an offense should be committed, 
indignation would be present, but it would be tempered by other 
feelings. The presence of slavery as an institution is also one 
of the early manifestations of complexity. Exogamous marriages, 
likewise, imply alliances with otherwise hostile tribes and these 
alliances are often of the most serious and binding nature. Also 
there are numerous temporary alliances for barter and for 

In such a complex situation it would be a rare case in which 
an offender would not have some friends within the very group 
that is concerned. Should two slaves, for example, have a 
serious quarrel, there might be nothing in the way of a battle 
to the death if they were of different tribes. But the owner of 
the two would naturally wish to save his property. In case of a 
federation of villages, the leaders would naturally be in favor 
of an amicable settlement of feuds between constituent members 
of the larger organization. There will be those in such a complex 
group who would wish to see the offender destroyed, that is, they 
would take the part of an enemy. There would also be those who 
would wish to have him escape entirely and who would, therefore, 
defend his cause. And there is necessary in any real punitive 
situation an impartial umpire who has interests on both sides. 

Here, then, we offer a suggested solution to the problem of the 
origin of punishment. So long as there are just two groups in 
the social world of the savage, no punishment can take place; 
but when there are three or more groups in his world, the attitude 
of formal punishment becomes possible. There is the group to 
which the offender belongs, the group which he has attacked, 
and a third which is relatively neutral and has interests in 

Our institutions of punitive justice exhibit this phenomenon 
quite accurately. The criminal is the expression of a group 
and is normally quite loyal to the group ideals and the code of 
his clan. This group is represented before the bar by counsel, 
appointed, if necessary, by the state itself, and the counsel for 
the defense is interested in making such a showing in the trial of 
the cause that the rights of the defendant will be fully protected. 


There is also the group which the prisoner has attacked, 
represented by the prosecuting attorney, whose sole task it is 
to paint the offense in the blackest colors, or, in other words, to 
represent the culprit's enemies and to destroy him, if necessary or 
possible. The fact that the prosecuting attorney is said in our 
legal procedure to represent the " people " should not blind us 
to the fact that there is also a third group necessary in the situa- 
tion, represented by the judge and the jury. These stand for 
the great body of those who are not directly concerned and 
who are, in reality, attempting to arrange the conflicting claims. 
The jury is supposed to have no interest in the case and pref- 
erably to have no knowledge of the matter to be, therefore, 
wholly disinterested and of another social group entirely. 

According to this discussion, punishment is a practice that 
has arisen out of group activity and owes none of its origin to 
private vengeance or the rule of force within the group. Punish- 
ment is the expression of the clashing of groups; with a " buffer- 
group" to lessen the shock. It is a phenomenon of social psy- 
chology and can be approached intelligently only from the social 
point of view. 



The position presented in this chapter, a point of view shared 
by many of my colleagues, although not a unanimous position 
as yet, is that the sociological approach presents neither a new 
doctrine of elements nor an adoption of any of the former lists. 
The problem of what the elements are seems not to be solved but 
to be outgrown or at least transferred. It is assumed that 
personality appears in the give and take of group activity, but 
there result habits so firmly entrenched as to seem instinctive, 
and there result desires felt to be basic and fundamental; but 
habits, attitudes, and desires are not elements appearing in the 
individual waiting to be made explicit in the personality but are 
rather the partial or developmental aspects of the personality 
which develops as a whole in the conception of oneself and of 
others and for which the term " person" is an adequate word. 
The elements of the individual personality, therefore, are not 
found in the individual person, but are to be sought in the mores 
of the group as these are appropriated, accepted, rejected, or 
modified in the interaction. The "traits" of personality are 
important to study and significant when found, but they prove to 
be descriptive terms denoting the developmental aspect which 
describes the behavior of the person in respect to the expectations, 
purposes, and prohibitions of the group in which he lives. 

By the present trend of opinion and practice in social science 
the sociologist is encouraged to make use of the methods of his 
confreres in other fields, from psychology to anthropology; but 
if he has any distinctive contribution to make it is perhaps in 
the emphasis of the importance of the group which can always be 
found to antedate the personality itself. This emphasis on the 
importance of the group has, we shall see, important corollaries 
for research and suggests methods of investigation which have 
already proved fruitful and which offer increasing attractiveness. 



The group is not a mere name for separate individuals but is 
thought of as a reality, an aggregation united in a set of 
relations which can be defined and studied. 

The sociologist begins with the assumption of the reality 
of the Group. This is the point on which there is to be found, 
within the field of sociology itself, no dissenting voice worthy 
to be heard. But in this emphasis and assumption sociologists 
find themselves in so sharp a contrast, even conflict, with so many 
other competent workers in other fields that it is fitting to begin 
this discussion with a defense of this basic starting point and 
an attempt to make clear just what is meant and what is not 
meant by it. This means that all the facts in our social life 
are not individual facts. 

Let us begin with an illustration and take language for an 
example. Our English speech exists, not in the cross-referenced 
list of its abstractions in the dictionary, but in the living voices 
of our people and in the growing body of our literature. Every 
sentence spoken or written is written by an individual person, 
but language is not an individual thing. Much has been brought 
to light in the last hundred years concerning its history and 
changes, its losses and gains, its development in semantics and 
in structure. We know that bruder changed to brother, that 
thur became door, that acht became eight. The inflections dis- 
appeared and the word order became more rigid. But these 
changes had no advocates. The differences had no inventors, 
they were not only not planned, they were unknown. The 
language is a vast, impersonal thing, and those who spoke it 
and from whom in turn we learned it were passive, though acting ; 
were coerced, though willing; and we know of the alterations 
only after the event. Language is, therefore, a collective phe- 
nomenon. The English language developed according to a series 
of evolutionary changes that could never have been discovered 
by the study of individuals. 

Familiar also to sociologists and to their critics are the facts 
regarding our manners, our customs, our moral codes, the folk- 
ways, the mores, the fashions, the religious conceptions and 
practices, and the sweep of public opinion. Society is not the 
arithmetical sum of its members, and public opinion cannot be 
understood as the average of the opinions of the individuals 
who constitute a public. The group exists and its influence 


on individuals is glacierlike in its irresistibility and sometimes 
in its speed of movement, though crises always increase the speed 
of change. There are individual facts and there are social facts, 
but social facts are not obtained by mere addition, nor is the 
group to be regarded as only a name for an aggregation. 

The group is not only a reality, it is a prior reality. Those 
with whom we deal, whether children, delinquents, or criminals, 
did not grow up as individuals and then for the first time form 
groups. They were born into groups and were the recipients 
from the beginning of group influences. Families and schools, 
governments and churches take the raw material and begin their 
work on it. How those groups get started is an inquiry apart, 
not without much interest. But once assumed to exist, they 
take the children and make them into members. The institu- 
tions and groups in our modern life are not alone altering per- 
sonality; they are creating personality. The ideals, the 
ambitions, the purposes, the habits, the very objects of attention 
are the result of group influence. So far from the groups' being 
the result of the instinctive equipment of separate organisms, 
they can, as Dewey remarks, be thought of in the opposite rela- 
tion. "It is the institution that produces the instincts and not 
the instincts the institution." 

The above statements are not intended to be dogmatic, and 
they are presented in the full realization that others do not 
agree. The present purpose is served if an adequate statement 
is made of the primary assumption of the sociologist. 

The question is, however, so controversial that it is necessary 
to attempt a clarification of its connotation. For if we consider 
crowds, families, circles of friends, or formal organizations like 
banks, joint stock companies, universities, it is pertinent to 
inquire when a given number of persons form a group and when 
they do not. And if a group is assumed to exist, what it is 
that makes it a group and what is gained by calling it a group 
instead of regarding the separate people who make it up as still 
separate, even though they may be influenced by other separate 

In the first place our language has reflected the intellectual 
needs of our people by giving us terms for collectivities which act 
as a whole and whose effects are not to be understood by analyz- 
ing the units. It may be said that a great wave that smites a 


ship in mid-ocean as a " green sea" is made up of separate drops 
of water (though a drop of water is a spherical-shaped thing 
not easily seen in a wave), yet we find it conveniently necessary 
to refer to the wave as a whole and the navigator would never 
deal with it adequately by any habits he has learned from separate 
drops of water. A glacier may be analyzed into an infinity of 
minute ice crystals, but mountain climbers must learn how glaciers 
as such behave and, if he values his life, know how to deal with 
the crevasses. It is not necessary nor even defensible to assume 
an over-soul, or an over-drop, or an over-crystal. But it is 
necessary to recognize that new qualities appear in the whole 
when it acts as a whole. 

We assume, then, that groups exist. Individuals exist but 
groups also exist. And to the persistent objector the sociologist 
would reply by saying that a group exists in exactly the same sense 
that anything else exists. Malaria is a reality and exists because 
a complex of symptoms is conveniently so called, and vast pro- 
grams of public health proceed on the result of this assumption. 
The present writer owes his life to the work of men who so believed 
and so wrought. Not to be betrayed into any excursion into the 
metaphysics of reality but remaining firmly planted on the rock 
of empirical thinking, we can say that things exist because they 
are experienced. If Buddha exists for the Buddhist, and if the 
horned devil existed for the medieval Christian we can only 
say that cultural reality must be dealt with and we can only 
discuss the world we live in and not the world that we might 
have lived in. And in a world where men recognize groups, 
where they love groups, fight groups, give money to groups, lay 
down their lives for groups in such a world it is not possible to 
deny their existence. And no people, civilized or primitive, has 
been found where the love of groups was absent or the claims of 
groups were neglected. And so, though the sociologist cannot 
claim that all agree with him, he takes as his starting point the 
groups which have their names, their traditions, their collective 
habits, and their coercive power. Groups can be classified, 
studied, described, and analyzed. And in the important genetic 
studies which concern the developing personalities of children it 
is the sociologist who must insist, early and late, that families, 
schools, play groups, gangs, cliques, and sets are of prime impor- 
tance and that much valuable material can come from a study of 


these which will throw light upon development in a way that is 
uniquely important and informing. The group does not, of 
course, create the personality or even "mold" it, for the member 
is also acting and interacting with his group. Communication 
within the group makes personality possible. 

For the term "group" there are two very different meanings 
which are quite distinguishable and, since sociologists employ 
the two, it is necessary to clarify the difference. There is the 
statistical group and there is the social group. The statistical 
group is an abstraction made by the investigator who assumes 
units which he can count. Thus, divorced persons can be 
enumerated and these can be divided according to age, occupation, 
place of residence, or any other interesting relations including 
importantly the various divisions of time, different years, or 
even the seasons of the year. Studies made in this way of crime, 
delinquency, suicide, insanity, and any other sociological phe- 
nomenon have yielded valuable data, the nature of which will be 
discussed as we proceed. At present we are interested to point 
out that the "groups" so studied are only brought together in 
the mind of the student, a detail which marks them off sharply 
from the "social groups." These latter have an added quality 
of interrelation and some degree of integration. The statistical 
group has units, the social group has members. The units in a 
statistical group may have no relation to the other units and are 
not necessarily affected by the other units ; while the members of 
a social group are not only affected by the relation, they are 
constituted by the relation. In a social group which includes 
several classes, it is the group which constitutes its members. 
The family and the school are within their limits determinative 
of personality. It is almost a definition of personality to say that 
it is the role which is assumed within the activities of the group. 

It follows, therefore, that the study of the group is often a 
necessary preliminary to the study of the personality, and an 
understanding of the group will mean the understanding of the 
personalities of those within it, if the investigation is sufficiently 
thorough, it being kept in mind that group membership is never 
unitary but always mobile and that the most isolated of persons 
moves in a plurality of groups. 

The sociologist finds it necessary to classify social groups, 
since the forms of control over members thereof differ in impor- 


tant ways. One of the simplest and most useful classifications 
is into the informal and the formal. Those falling under the 
first of these have been called the primary groups, since they 
have the quality which the earliest, or primary, relations tend to 
take, such as the family and the play groups of children, where 
the relations are relatively free and the fixed regulations are 
absent. The formal groups have a different constitution. They 
are more rigid and official in character, and there is a smaller 
degree of interpenetration. Institutions like banks or corpora- 
tions are typical of formal groups, and while important for the 
study of personality, tend to have different methods of control. 

In the study of groups the sociologist is interested in the 
morale, the esprit de corps, and the collective representations 
in the group. 

An aspect of social relations already mentioned needs a 
further word: The multiple membership that characterizes the 
least experienced of persons and the most simple societies and is 
particularly important as life becomes more complex and social 
relations more extensive in modern civilized existence. The 
groups to which a person may belong are sometimes widely dif- 
ferent and sometimes sharply conflicting in their demands, and 
a given personality trait that may be assumed to be social may 
be traced to group experience in another or in a prior group 
wholly foreign to the association in which the personality is at a 
given moment found. And it must be remembered that social 
relations include not only what is said and done to the person 
and what he answers and does in return but must include that 
larger series of social relations represented in the literature he 
reads, the pictures he sees, and in the various artistic products 
with which he has had experience. For it is more than a figure 
to say that art is a form of communication. 

These preliminary statements of standpoint are of importance 
only in so far as they guide research and facilitate investigation. 
The test of their value is the degree to which they serve to facil- 
itate the collection of data relevant to problems of personality 
and to an interpretation of these data which will give rise to 
the discovery of general laws which will increase our knowledge. 

Those students of personality who call themselves sociologists 
have relied on several methods of procedure, among which we 
may list the following : 


1. The life history, or the more or less completely guided 
autobiographical document. This is sometimes a record of the 
entire life, sometimes a suggested filling out of an outline stress- 
ing the particular problem under investigation. When the 
record sought deals with a very limited area of experience, it 
may consist of brief answers of a specific sort and then it 
approaches the questionnaire. 

There are admitted defects in the life-history technique. In 
the first place it is usually impossible to know whether the 
statements are exact and there is often no way to verify the 
statements. Moreover, the entire record of a life would be an 
unmanageably voluminous document and, therefore, only a 
fragment can ever be obtained. Also, the record of the past is 
not the same experience as the living-through the experiences 
recorded and so the result is not the exact account of how the 
experience was registered by the person writing but rather the 
memory and interpretation as it can be recalled at a time often 
long subsequent. 

In spite of these admitted limitations, the sociologist finds chis 
a very valuable method. The lack of verifiable truth is com- 
pensated for by the accuracy of the picture of the personality as 
it is conceived by the subject at the time of writing. It may not 
be true that the Jackroller was subjected to unbearably harsh 
treatment by his stepmother, but it is significant that he thinks 
so or, at the very least, that he wishes to make the reader believe 
it. The record of memories may be far from accurate, but it is 
significant for the personality that the memories are present and 
the interpretation and defense or accusation or objectivity is of 
significance quite independent of the other considerations. In 
this respect the life history has the advantages and defects of the 
interview, with the added advantage that the document is a 
permanent record and collections and comparisons of these can 
be made and studied at leisure. 

2. The interview. The social worker and the psychiatrist 
depend so largely on this method of obtaining data that it is not 
necessary to enlarge on this point. The values and limitations 
of the interview are similar in many ways to those of the life- 
history document, though rarely is the client asked to give an 
oral account of his whole life. 


3. Community studies. An understanding, as complete as 
possible, of the population, economic activities, institutions, 
customs, and social life of a given community makes it possible 
to interpret more adequately the personality of one who lives in 
the area. In the effort to achieve this understanding, the 
sociologist takes for a model the ethnologist who attempts a 
description of the culture of a tribe, seeking to make an objective 
description of those aspects of their total life which he regards 
as significant. 

4. Statistical ecological studies. Assuming that the different 
parts of the city were different in their population in racial com- 
position, economic condition, occupational status, and in other 
aspects, the attempt has been made to mark off these limits with 
definiteness and accuracy. The result of a series of continuous 
and related studies has been the division of the city into fairly 
definitely marked areas, each with a geographical center (where the 
land values tend to be highest) and with boundaries sufficiently 
definite to be capable of being plotted on a map. Within these 
areas it was then possible to study the particular phenomenon of 
interest. Among such phenomena we may mention juvenile 
delinquency, crime, divorce and family disorganization, poverty 
and dependency, suicide, and insanity. Studies have shown 
that certain areas are characteristically high in many or all of 
these indices of disorganization and that statistically the rate 
shows a gradual decrease from an assumed center toward the 
periphery. The quantitative results show, or seem to indicate, 
that the different forms of disorganization occur together and 
they raise the presumption that phenomena so different as 
juvenile delinquency and suicide are either related to each other 
or are to be referred to a common cause or series of causal 

Just how far we are justified in concluding that the causes are 
disclosed by the statistical results is uncertain and it is perhaps 
safer to say that such statistical ecological studies in which the 
phenomena are related to an area yield rather a clarified state- 
ment of the problem than its final solution. The cases included 
in a statistical aggregate can most advantageously suggest hypoth- 
eses which can then be tested by other ways of procedure, 
such as case studies. It is true that sufficiently laborious and 


complete statistics with sufficient refinement might be able to 
carry the problems far toward solution, but in practice this is 
very rarely attained. In general we have the conclusion: These 
phenomena are related; I wonder why and how. 

This is not an exhaustive list of the methods and procedures 
of sociological investigation. Each problem has its characteristic 
features and the data will be found, now in the facts in the 
biography of the leader of a group, now in the effort to discover 
the typical personalities in the group, again in the study of the 
conditions that produced the group, or in the records of its 
traditions and activities. The study of institutions and, most 
profitably, the study of particular institutions, the study of 
social movements and the stages from the initial unrest to the 
triumph of the movement in getting itself institutionalized and 
recognized in changes in legislation or to its disintegration and 
death owing to conditions that brought failure all these have 
important results for the study of the genesis and nature of per- 
sonality. The origin of the religious sect, for example, may be 
due to a unique constellation of events, while its development 
is often very different from any purpose which was ever formu- 
lated. Once the sect has become integrated, it takes its place 
as an important cultural fact and proceeds to influence the 
personality of its new converts and of the children who are born 
into its heritage. The Mormon, the Menonite, or the Christian 
Scientist can only be completely known and explained as the 
results of facts which transcend specific inquiries into individual 
experience. If such an institution as the religious sect be 
followed through, there is discovered a cycle of collective isola- 
tion which reaches an extreme point, after which the curve 
returns and the process of integration begins, the sect returning 
once more into the world which it had left, accepting much of what 
was formerly rejected, and producing its modicum of alteration 
in the mores of the larger society. This appears clearly in the 
case of the Friends, or Quakers, but is also true of the Methodists 
and, presumably, of all sects. 

It is by a study of the various types of groups and institutions 
that the sociologist hopes to transcend history. Historical 
facts, in their very nature, are unique. Each one has a date and 
a place. Being uniquely located in space, time, and circum- 
stance, it cannot be repeated, and no scientific laws can come 


from that appreciative description and interpretation which we 
call history. But if the various historical accounts of specific 
situations with a similarity sufficient to warrant a common 
classification be assembled and classified and their common 
elements abstracted and brought under unifying formula, there 
results a sort of natural history which can lead to the discovery 
of relations, causes, and general laws which enable us to pass over 
into sociology. The history of the French Revolution is history 
and can be written only with some interpretation and apprecia- 
tion. Accounts before us have bias, prejudice, and partiality, 
depending on the point of view of the historian. But if the 
various accounts of the French Revolution be assembled and the 
accounts of the other revolutions be compared with each other, 
there is the possibility that something may be learned about 
revolution in general and the adventitious aspects can be sepa- 
rated from the important and the essential. In this way lies the 
possibility of a sociology of revolution. Actual studies of this 
problem have been produced in recent years by American 

It is characteristic of social science in our day that the prob- 
lems studied are defined very narrowly in order that a defensible 
method of attack may be found and defended. Older writers 
depended less on investigation than reflection and a sort of arm- 
chair philosophizing. The result of their work was liable to be a 
series of theories or systems and the argument largely conceptual. 
We are at present in a period of reaction against this procedure, 
and there is much to be hoped from the current prestige of fact 
finding, even when the facts found are of little value. There is 
a conviction that facts are self-justifying and are their own 
reward. It is even contended that the facts will speak for 
themselves when accurately set forth and persistently accumu- 
lated. An adequate statement of scientific method would, it 
seems to me, mean an insistence on the relativity of fact to 
problem and would lay stress on the necessity of a constructive 
activity which builds facts into a systematic statement con- 
firming a hypothesis or helping to dislodge one which has become 
a matter of doubt. 

When a problem of sufficient dimensions engages the attention 
of the social scientist, there is hardly any field of knowledge which 
may not offer him data. And it is his privilege to call upon the 


specialists in remote fields if their facts or their results seem of 
value to him. 

With a view to making this point clear, it is my purpose to 
present here some reports on an unfinished investigation, hoping 
that it will illustrate the methods mentioned and that, if the 
matter or manner seem of importance to others, discussion will 
be provoked that will forward the search for truth in this small 
corner of the field. 

As a result of my experience including my reading, reflection, 
gathering of information, not excluding my interpretation of my 
own personal experience as child, parent, teacher, experimenter, 
and as field worker in a number of primitive tribes, I have come to 
entertain the following hypothetical views concerning the phe- 
nomenon of punishment. Punishment did not always exist in 
human society. The origin of punishment was relatively late in 
racial experience, being, perhaps, contemporaneous with civiliza- 
tion. The practice of punishing children arose long after the 
punishment of adults came into society. The effect of punishment 
on children has a disruptive tendency on the group to which children 
belong. The resulting isolation results in an increase of "social 
distance" which tends to lessen the control of the adults over the 
attitudes of the children in the group. 

The above statements are given not as demonstrated conclu- 
sions but as hypotheses to be tested. Relevant to their investiga- 
tion are facts and materials to be found in the fields of ethnology, 
mythology, legal theory, social history, studies of groups includ- 
ing schools, families, and other collectivities. The experiences 
of individuals who have inflicted punishment and observed its 
effects, the testimony of those who have been punished and of 
those who have witnessed or who have even contemplated it 
can have a certain relevancy. 

The limits of space prevent an adequate exhibit of the data, 
but enough will be included to enable the reader to form an 
estimate of the values and shortcomings of the method pursued. 
The ethnological facts alone, as already collected, occupy some 
hundreds of pages. Here we content ourselves with a few 

Twenty years ago attention was attracted to various state- 
ments pointing to the lack of punishment in the control of 
children among primitive or preliterate people. Stefansson, 


who spent three years among the Eskimos, was so struck by this 
difference from our own culture that he devoted considerable 
time to trying to discover what the explanation was. Knud 
Rasmussen, who has visited every Eskimo tribe, records the 
same observation. While the Eskimo children are very well 
disciplined and are extraordinarily obedient, they do not suffer 
any punishment or penalties from their parents. Authorities on 
the American Indian began to report the same condition in widely 
scattered primitive tribes on this continent. The same report 
began to be very common among observers of African children. 

As time went on, these statements became more and more 
frequent, until now it is a matter well known that the punishment 
of children among preliterate people is the exception and not 
the rule. Where the influence of civilization has been felt, and a 
consequent disorganization of the tribal control has occurred, 
the phenomenon of the punishment of children can be observed, 
but the general rule still holds, and the rather striking fact that 
children are well controlled and adequately disciplined without 
formal penalties or the assertion of formal parental authority is a 
phenomenon capable of exciting lively theoretical interest. 

But, in addition to these facts about the differential treatment 
of children in primitive and civilized communities, other very 
interesting reports began to accumulate about the treatment 
of adult offenders. It was reported by Radcliffe-Brown that in 
the Andaman Islands there was no punishment of adults for 
any crime which they committed, which of course means that 
there were no offenses described as crime, since crime and punish- 
ment are correlative terms. The same statements are made by 
competent observers of the pariah tribes in Africa, of the Bush- 
man tribes in the southern part of the continent, of certain of the 
Pueblo tribes, and all in all there are about forty small groups of 
isolated, primitive people scattered in various parts of the 
world where punishment is practically unknown, essentially non- 
existent. This is true of most of the Eskimo tribes, who have 
already been mentioned as being without the punishment of 
children. Those who became interested in this phenomenon 
devoted their energies at first to the framing of some hypothesis 
to account for the lack of punishment among the few peoples 
who did not have it or for the lack of punishment among the 
much larger number who do not apply it to their children. It 


would be entirely defensible to pursue this inquiry and to see if an 
answer could be found to the question of why this particular 
element is lacking in certain parts of the world. 

This, however, is not the only way in which the question 
could be approached. It would be possible to inquire, also, just 
as legitimately, as to how the punishment of children entered 
into later society, assuming ours to be later, or how the punish- 
ment of adults is to be accounted for in the much larger com- 
munity where it is almost universal. Students of social origins 
have, for a long time, been in agreement that it is a pertinent 
inquiry to raise the question of the origin of any of the elements 
in our civilization. It is proper to inquire into how religion 
began, how art began, or the state, or the moral life, and it is also 
profitable to inquire how we may account for the origins of pun- 
ishment. It is quite true that the facts we most need are forever 
inaccessible, and yet so long as there is a lively interest among 
physicists and astronomers in the origin of the earth or the 
origin of the solar system, it does not seem inappropriate that 
students of society should entertain the question of how the 
institution of punishment came into existence in our world. 
The facts so far, then, are clear. Over most of the world chil- 
dren are punished; over a much larger part adults are punished; 
but over some considerable areas neither children nor adults are 
ever punished. 

The problem that concerns us is the place of punishment in 
home and school as directed toward children, and the next 
appeal is to the field of folklore and mythology. The conviction 
that punishment is appropriate to children rests in no small 
degree upon the testimony of the sacred books and the beliefs 
about the character of the deity and his treatment of those who 
offend his laws. The eternal lake of fire and brimstone where the 
souls of the damned were punished by a malignant demon 
throughout eternity is a familiar picture which was very real to 
our medieval Christian ancestors. But to the historian of 
religion it is very clear that such pictures are the projection of a 
certain aspect of the past experience of the people who accept 
the doctrines thus stated. The purgatory and the hell of Dante 
had their counterpart in the torture chamber and punishing 
devices of the generation preceding the time when Dante 


While there are elaborations and picturesque enlargements in 
the account of the after life, yet it is quite possible to show that 
the next world is dependent for its imagery upon the experience 
of the generations preceding those who formulated the picture. 

The conception of retributive punishment by an angry deity 
who is just and all-powerful, very clear in the New Testament 
writings, was elaborated in Persia, from which source much of 
it came into Palestime in the early Christian centuries and those 
just preceding. It also flourished in Egypt and in other 
parts of the civilized world of ancient times. There are, how- 
ever, many parts of the world from which it is absent. The early 
Hebrew Scriptures have no hint of punishment in the next world 
for deeds done in this world, and if a careful survey of the 
mythology of all races is made with this question in mind it is 
interesting to record that over most of the world there was no 
belief in punishment after death. Among the North American 
Indians, where there was punishment of offenders, there was no 
belief that the next world had any such activity. Indeed, punish- 
ment in the after-life is practically absent from the beliefs of all 
preliterate peoples. There is often a belief in a difference in 
the fate of those who die, so far as the after-life is concerned, 
but this is more liable to be on the basis of how death was met, 
whether on the field of battle or by violence, and there seems to 
be a rather complete absence of the idea of retributive justice 
in the after-life of those who have offended on this earth. 

But more interesting than this fact for our problem is the 
further consideration that the mythologies of many who are not 
to be classed as savage peoples have this same interesting feature. 
This is true of the pre-Christian Celtic mythology; it is true of 
the Scandinavians; it characterizes also the Finnish, the early 
German, the early Greek and Roman, and most of the others. 

What significance has this collection of facts? If our first 
assumption is correct regarding the relation of social factors to 
sociological deposits, are we not justified in concluding that the 
absence of an idea of future punishment reflects a time when 
there was an absence of punishment of the living? Even if this 
be true, it does not follow that the life of the people was neces- 
sarily idyllic or totally harmonious; it would only mean that 
there had not appeared any authority sufficiently powerful to 
make the offender subject to a definite penalty. Taken alone, 


it would appear that the evidence of mythology would not be 
very conclusive, but taken in relation to the other facts already 
presented and to be immediately set forth, it does seem that we 
are justified in attaching to it some importance. 

An inquiry into why offenses are punished will lead the inquirer 
to a reading of a succession of abandoned theories. Oppen- 
heimer lists more than a dozen of these, but they can be grouped 
and classified in ways that would make a smaller list or, with 
refinements of distinction, a longer one. For the purpose of 
this discussion we can speak of them briefly. 

There is the doctrine of expiation which defends punishment 
as a moral necessity, modified by Hegel into a logical necessity, 
stated by Herbart as an aesthetic necessity; but these and other 
refinements of statement have a common assumption. It is to 
the effect that suffering abolishes the guilt, wipes it out, or 
washes it away, various metaphors from the laundry or the 
housekeeper being employed. This theory will not stand 
criticism. There is, first of all, the quantitative difficulty. The 
amount of guilt is different in different offenses, and the amount 
of suffering in different punitive activities also varies. In order 
to apply the theory, the suffering must be made equal to the 
guilt, but it is impossible to find either units of guilt or units of 
suffering, and so the attempt to equate them proves to be an 
impossible task. An equation can be made between the amount 
of suffering and the satisfaction of those who have been damaged 
or those who are inflicting the penalty, but this departs from the 
theory and would be rejected as unethical. 

But in addition to this factual objection to the theory of 
expiation there is the more important basic assumption that in 
the very nature of man is involved an attitude of resentment to 
wrong which requires the punishing act to even it up. This is 
held to be primary and original, but facts innumerable can be 
cited in support of the statement that the resentment toward a 
wrongdoer is always a function of the group relations which 
obtain. It is not possible to resent the act of a comrade in a 
group who offends a member of a hostile group in the same way 
or to the same degree that we resent the acts of a member of the 
hostile group toward one of our own. This is so obvious that it 
hardly needs elaboration. A large-scale example is the treat- 
ment of the Jews in Germany, and the differential attitude 


toward this taken by Jews or by impartial observers or by mem- 
bers of the governmental party in Germany would illustrate 
what can be paralleled by similar differences in definition through- 
out very wide realms of experience. It is, therefore, necessary 
to abandon the theory of expiation and to assert that it rests 
upon inadequate psychological foundations. 

The theory of deterrence assumes that the contemplation of an 
offense will arouse in the person involved a picture of the penalty 
which others have suffered and thus inhibit him from the act. 
The reason that A is punished is to deter B, C, and D from com- 
mitting the same offense when they recall the consequences which 
A has suffered. This has been refuted by changing psychological 
insight which presents the contemplated act as being essentially 
different from a calmly reasoned process. If reasoning were 
cold and objective and devoid of any instinctive urge or emotional 
drive, the outcome might be different, but with the present view 
of the psychology of action, the theory of deterrence breaks down. 
Moreover, in practice, no support has been found for the theory 
which would lead us to believe that severity of punishment is an 
adequate deterrence of offenses. 

The theory of reformation fastens the attention upon the 
effect of the suffering upon the individual patient. It can be 
abundantly shown that this effect is by no means constant and 
indeed is relatively rare. The reformatory effects of punishment 
are illusory and when the reformation does take place it can more 
reasonably be attributed to other types of social influence, and 
so the theory of reformation breaks down. It should be said 
further that if punishment is entirely educative and reformative 
it tends to take the form of therapeutics and loses its essential 
punitive character, that is to say, resentment disappears. 

Not to enter too deeply into this aspect of the subject, it is 
asserted here without adequate proof of the assertion, that all 
the theories of punishment turn out to be untenable, and if this 
be assumed we may offer the following interpretation: A theory 
of punishment is a sort of rationalization. All of these theories 
are of relatively recent origin. All of them can be characterized 
as defenses for a proposed change or reform on the one hand, or as 
reasons for resisting change on the other. Many of them are in 
the nature of rear-guard actions of the conservative members of 
society, while others are arguments for a new and better way of 


treating criminals and children. But in either case the important 
sociological principle is that theories of punishment are far sub- 
sequent to the non-rational custom which grew up as other culture 
traits in the mores grew, not as a rational solution to a problem, 
but as a collective representative having its origin, like other 
collective phenomena, in the more massive social facts that gave 
rise to the custom. 

The relevance of this argument to the problem in hand may be 
stated, then, in this fashion: The punishment of criminals and 
children is a non-rational custom which is defended by theories 
acceptable to the generation that produced them and fallacious 
when analyzed by those who do not share the assumptions of the 

A further relevant consideration in the study of punishment, 
with the purpose of getting an adequate conception of it, comes 
from the consideration that in the primary groups, such as a 
circle of friends or a child group of equals, there is no possibility 
of formal punishment. A teacher may punish the children in 
her school for disorder in the room, but disorder in her absence 
cannot be punished by any member of the group; it can be 
objected to, and there can be quarreling and fighting, but the act 
of punishment must be performed by one who has some formal 
authority; and groups without number can be found where 
such formal authority does not exist, because in the primary 
group the essence of its being is a mutuality and non-authorita- 
tive equality. The point is that the surprising discovery of the 
absence of punishment in a small number of primitive groups can 
be paralleled by a very large number of modern primary groups 
whose methods of control have none of the elements of formal 

The origin of the individual attitude toward punishment of 
offenses and the necessity of suffering for wrong-doing, including 
the feeling, of which much is made by many influential writers of 
the present day, that self-punishment is appropriate and that 
we must reckon with a native urge for it, is not to be found in the 
individual as such. This feeling or sentiment must be sought 
in the mores of the group and cannot be ascribed to an innate 
tendency or unconscious urge. Punishment is, therefore, a 
social custom, very old but arising in specific, concrete situations 
and perpetuated by conditions which may be found by persistent 


Whatever the origin of the punishment of children, it arose 
subsequently to the punishment of adults. This statement con- 
tradicts the traditional opinion but seems to be justified in the 
light of the available facts. The despotic patriarch ruling with 
an iron hand is a myth. Neither the Homeric Greeks nor the 
ancient Hebrews were primitive people. 

The punishment of children in the family, which is an integral 
part of our contemporary culture, can be investigated by observ- 
ing family discipline, by questions asked of adults, by questions 
directed to children, and by the securing of connected accounts of 
children or of adults with reference to their experiences in admin- 
istering or suffering or observing punishment. The present 
writer has collected a large amount of material of this character 
which can be treated in a variety of ways. It is proposed here 
to consider the results with the methods of case material as 
against the quantitative methods of statistical enumeration. In 
a questionnaire addressed to the mothers in parent-teacher asso- 
ciations in the cities of Chicago and New York, some two hundred 
replies were received bearing on various aspects of observed 
punishment, both administered and experienced. This included 
an inquiry into the attitude of the respondents toward the prac- 
tice of punishment, but the interest at this point is on the observed 
effects as characterized by those who reported. The following 
sample of twenty-six answers is representative : 

1. My child always tore her hair. 

2. I was usually in a mood to say and do anything in revenge. 

3. Became prejudiced against everybody. 

4. The effect was that the child became sullen and bad tempered. 

5. Felt as if the entire world was against me. 

6. Felt sore at the entire universe. 

7. Felt like a wronged and trapped creature. 

8. Ran away from home. 

9. Felt angry. 

10. Was made to feel ridiculous and resolved to do better next time. 

11. Felt contrite and resolved to be good afterward. 

12. Felt embarrassed and repentant but sometimes defiant. 

13. I decided to behave afterward. 

14. Wished harm to the punisher. 

15. I knew a child who tried to kill his parents. 

16. The girl cursed and wished her parents had never been born. 

17. I felt as if the punishing person should never have existed. 

18. The boy cursed his parents and said he hated them and did not want 
ever to see them again. 

19. Felt terrible. 


20. Felt morbid and sulked. 

21. Hurt my pride very much. 

22. Felt very much ashamed. 

23. Wished I was dead or lame. 

24. Wished I was crippled. 

25. Wished I would get sick and die. 

26. One child I knew committed suicide because he had been punished by 
the teacher. 

At first it seemed that there was no common effect of punish- 
ment, for the above material taken as samples reveals that in 
the opinion of those reporting, punishment sometimes produces 
resentment, sometimes contrition, sometimes defiance, and even 
leads to murder or desertion. 

But when further inquiry was made it seemed definite that 
one result always followed, namely, a certain degree of isolation. 1 

1 The above phrases were abstracted from the complete answers to a 
questionnaire sent to the 200 mothers. The following is a copy of the 
questions. The answers provide material for problems not discussed in 
this chapter: 

"This questionnaire is being distributed by students in the University of 
Chicago who are collecting material on the subject ' punishment of children/ 
The child's viewpoint is necessary for a complete survey of the problem, and 
it is earnestly requested that thoughtful and uncolored replies be given to 
the questions herein contained. Do not sign your name to the question- 
naire; but give it your deepest personal consideration, as you will thus assist 
in providing a considerable mass of important psychological material even 
though its source is not identified. 

"The word punishment is here used in the sense of 'a voluntary and 
equative act performed by one in control upon a more helpless person after 
the committing of the offense. ' 

"1. For what kinds of offenses should children be punished? 

2. What kinds of punishment are most effective for children? 

3. a. Does punishment always benefit the child? 

b. What punishments have most benefitted you? 

4. Do children ever resent punishment? 

5. How do you think a child normally feels under punishment? 

6. Should punishment be different in the home from in the school? 

7. Did you ever know a child who was harmed by punishment? How? 

8. Could a home be run without punishment? 

9. Could a school be run without punishment? 

10. Could you have been raised without punishment? 

11. If so, what method of control do you think would have been pref- 
erable for you? 

12. Do you know of any cases where children have wished harm to 
themselves or the persons who punished them because of punish- 


A series of life histories was collected from 500 students in 
various colleges in the Middle West. The papers were written 
by upper classmen and covered various aspects of their past life 
as they could recall it and cared to communicate it. One section 
was written about the discipline in the family with no more direc- 
tion than the simple direction to write on this topic. Most of 
the students wrote two or more pages on this topic. One out of 
six failed to discuss the topic. It is not proposed to treat the 
material statistically. For the purposes of this paper the first 
150 papers were read and the key phrases on punishment and 
the effect of it were noted. The papers, taken at random, were 
examined and the phrases were recorded till they began to repeat 
themselves, that is, no new types of effects seemed to appear, 
and then the work was stopped. The object in presenting the 
material is to show the reason for concluding that there are a 
certain number of typical attitudes produced in the child by 
parental punishment. No effort is made here to decide why one 
result rather than another was produced. This is an important 
question but would require special attack. The classification 
of the material of this nature is relative to the purpose of the 
student, but it is believed that the main conclusion will be 

Desertion from Home. 

1. Step-father would take the buggy whip to me . . . when I was thirteen 
I ran away. 

2. Only system of discipline, the rod . . . was not told right from wrong. 
Learned to tell falsehoods to save hide . . . rebelled . . . left home 
and never returned . . . never got homesick. 

Death-wishes, Etc. 

3. After I had been punished . . . wished I were dead. This was so 
I could make my parents feel sorry. 

4. Father used to believe in good old spanking . . . oh, how it hurt my 
feelings. Thought I was adopted child and they did not love me. 
Wanted to get sick and die so they would feel sorry for me. Now I 
know that both parents were always just. 

5. Caused me to wish that I had not been born . . . that I could go away 
never again to return. 

6. Mother scolded me ... prayed I might die so mother would be sorry 

ment? Elaborate in much detail. 
13. Any opinions about punishment or interesting cases known to you." 


7. Father whipped so hard I prayed I might die. There was bitter 
hatred for my father. I rebelled and practiced deceits and did not 
regret it. I would remain sullen and not talk for days. He never 
allowed us to explain. 

Deception, Etc. 

8. Father dominated . . . father used whole basket of shingles on me 
... I think he was fair for that situation . . . seldom rebelled until 
I was sixteen . . . used the back window for entrance. 

9. Small switch . . . did not rebel against the system but used small 
deceits to avoid it. 

10. Punishment . . . whipping by mother. Severe scolding by father 
which hurt worse and lasted longer . . . rebelled against the punish- 
ments and practiced deceits to keep from getting caught. Never 
lied except on a few occasions. 

11. System of discipline not very strict . . . was just . . . deceived in 
order to avoid it. 

12. Never whipped very hard . . . lectures main diet of punishment . . . 
was fair . . . small deceits in things I couldn't see were wrong. 

13. Discipline . . . consisted of both fear and reward . . . whipping or 
talking to ... if did something well was rewarded . . . discipline 
not unfair ... at time of whipping was bitter and rebelled . . . 
bitterness did not last long . . . small deceits to get out of licking. 

14. Discipline sensible and fair . . . rebelled when my wishes were 
thwarted . . . small deceits to avoid punishment. 

15. Whipping . . . used every scheme that was possible to avoid whip- 
ping ... I suppose it was fair . . . told many falsehoods. 

16. Discipline . . . corporal punishment rarely . . . usual deceits on 

17. Received only one whipping that I can recall . . . felt it was unjust 
. . . practiced small deceits. 

18. System of thrashing with whips . . . some slapping . . . not alto- 
gether fair . . . practiced deceptions to avoid punishment. 

Resentment, Rebellion, Etc. 

19. Feared father . . . resolved to get even with him when I grew up ... 
in moments of peace he was kind to me and I could not help from 
weeping when he got tender. 

20. Lied to avoid spanking . . . punished some by sending them tramping 
. . . making them leave home with a small bundle on the back . . . 
"you cannot live at home unless you will improve your conduct " . . . 
To see a person striking another arouses in me a dislike for the person 
striking ... I cringe now when I think of my brothers being strapped 
. . . respected and feared my mother . . . father never punished. 

21. No special system of discipline . . . not very mischievous or naughty 
. . . were screamed at and one of parents had nervous spells and fits 
of anger . . . this was hard on us. 


22. Whipped with small switch ... at that time thought it was cruel for 
parents to whip their children. 

23. Old type ironclad rule . . . father usually on the job . . . not 
altogether fair. 

24. Always spanked and scolded ... I certainly did rebel . . . often 
practiced deceits. 

25. Family rather strict with me . . . always punished when I needed 
it ... sometimes too strict with me ... rebelled in spirit but not 

26. Discipline by depriving me of thing I liked . . . spankings not com- 
mon . . . rebelled sometimes but usually only inwardly . . . Almost 
never lied to get out of things. 

27. Father was head of the house ... on no occasion were we permitted 
to contradict him or disobey . . . frequently rebelled . . . practiced 
some petty deceits ... do not remember having expressed myself 
openly . . . usually sulked about . . . daydreamed of a time when 
I would get even. 

28. Father always strict ... if orders not carried out I was duly punished 
. . . usually sent to bed . . , spanked in early years . . . later on 
punished by withdrawal of privileges . . , rebelled now and then 
without any good resulting. 

29. Mother tells not to do a thing . . . finally gives in after we begged a 
while . . . discipline left to mother . . . mother fussed at us ... 
punishment always switching . . . quite fair . . . rebelled, small 
deceits to avoid it. 

30. Discipline by mother scolding and whipping . . . evaded punishment 
till father came home ... he never spanked . . . scolding made me 
resentful and sulky . . . father talked until we were shamed. Father 
expected obedience and got it ... no fear of him . . . respected and 
adored him . . . never resented father, rebelled against mother 
. . . deceitful to mother to evade punishment , . . never with 

31. Discipline strong . . . not confide in mother . . . father and I 
practiced deceits in order to avoid conflict situations (later father and 
mother were divorced). 

32. At that time considered punishment unjust . . . often tried to lie 
out of it. 

33. Never severely disciplined , . . father never disciplined us ... "left 
it to mother" . . . discipline was unfair. 

34. Very rigid . . . cat-o-nine-tails . . . razor strop . . . piece of kin- 
dling . . . mother most merciless creature . . . beat us while stark 
naked on the bed . . . kneeling bare-kneed on hard kitchen floor . . . 
never fair ... no thought behind it ... felt she used it to make us 
afraid of her ... to avoid it slept in barn with dog for warmth . . . 
missed meals to avoid it ... one day I jerked the whip from her hand 
and told her I had a mind of my own (writer is 31 years old, 


35. Did the right thing because I feared what my mother would do or 
say or "what other people will say" . . . Heaven forbid that I should 
ever use that method. 

Isolation, Shame, Etc. 

36. Punished by not speaking to me for a long time. 

37. Discipline of home was silence . . . when we did anything contrary 
to parents they would not speak to us until we apologized . . . hurt 
dreadfully ... I was stubborn . , . not speak for three days . . . 
sometimes father gave long lecture ... no whippings . . . never 
deceive father ... he hated that. 

38. Never would talk to me . . . hurt more than a whipping. 

39. Spanking for lying . . . told before all the family . . . greatly 

40. Mother used slipper when emotionally disturbed . . . never felt 
fairness or justice in way rewards and punishments were meted . . . 
they were cruel and lacked sympathy . . . mother slapped my face 
in front of company . . . mother at heart sacrificing . . . mother 
taught prayer ... I doubted the sincerity of her belief. 

Destruction of Initiative, Etc. 

41. Father required strict obedience ... no open rebellion . . . made 
expressions in the back yard alone . . . mother not as strict ... no 
disputes about expediency of obedience to parents . . . this regime 
failed to develop my self-confidence. 

42. Very rigid discipline . . . severe corporal punishment . . . bachelor 
brother of 35 has his spirit broken ... he has forgotten how to think 
for himself. 

43. Bodily punishments I cannot remember . . . mental punishments 
. . . inclined to believe that my feeling of inadequacy may be attri- 
buted to these punishments inflicted upon a sensitive mind and 

Generally Accepted. 

44. Punishment reasonable and thorough, but I believe I would be lighter 
with the strop. 

45. No rebelling . . . only one way to go ... never did an added piece 
of work or favor to avoid a penalty. 

46. Spanking by mother only . . . always fair . . . never rebelled . . . 
knew I was wrong or would not be spanked . . . parents gave me good 
talks . . . deceitful only one or two times. 

47. Firm but never cruel . . . fair and never obvious . . . tantrums cut 
off by cold water . . . sulking rewarded by being sent to bedroom 

48. Parents sometimes severe . . . felt I could confide in them . . . 
father angry over foolish things and paddled me ... I told truth. 

49. Discipline strict . . . honesty stressed . . . never rebelled ... no 
deceits practiced, they would have been unearthed immediately. 


50. Very fair . . . usually resented it for the time until I had time to 
think it over . . . reasoning first, then spanking as a last resort . . . 
whipped with the open hand . . . did not practice deceit . . . meant 
much to receive a spanking, parents never punished when angry . . . 
punishments never made us think less of our parents . . . never 
questioned the rights of the parents. 

51. When young was punished for some misdemeanors . . . the wonder 
whether I was an adopted child left me later . . . misdemeanors 
meant punishment . . . never unjust . . . never rebelled against it 
. . . never practiced deceits . . . never lied to my parents. 

52. Discipline in every way fair . . . parents rulers but not tyrants . . . 
no need to rebel ... all punished alike . . . punished only when 
wrong doing was discovered ... of course we told lies to keep from 
getting a whipping . . . would hide all evidence. 

53. Dad's word was law ... no particular system of discipline. 

54. We knew that if we disobeyed punishment was sure to follow . . . 
father needed to speak but once. 

55. Mother was strict . . . took her word as law . . . never whipped. 

56. Mother's chief form of discipline was: "you cannot go out to play," 
or "you must be home by seven "... Dad told me and it was done. 

57. Razor strop . . . always stressed importance of honesty. 

58. Discipline chiefly verbal . . . fear was not used as an instrument of 

59. Fair . . . whipped or talked to ... either of the parents could do this 
because they had the best of strength. 

60. Punished by double work . . . tried to get out by promises. 

61. Father final authority . . . father exacting . . . seldom whipped 
. . . father talked to us ... mother whipped more but could be 
talked out of it . . . father fair . . . never rebelled to any extent . . . 
no deceit to father but deceit to mother. 

62. Never rebelled against my mother. 

63. Discipline too lenient for my own good . . . only whipped four times 
. . . resented them for a time . . . sent to sit on a chair ... I often 
brooded on it for a time ... I rarely deceived my parents for was 
taught to hate a cheater. 

64. Whippings not severe and very reasonable . . . little or no resistance. 

65. Not spanked after fourth grade . . . usually mother told me wherein 
I had erred . . . father once or twice punished me by removing my 
privileges ... I am quite obedient . . . punishment seldom more 
than a reprimand. 

66. Back of hair-brush afforded punishment . . . many lickings . . . 
needed all I got. 

67. Good talks . . . severe whippings . . . usually fair . . . never 

68. Taken for granted . . . never severe . . . denying play . . . whip- 
ping by either father or mother . . . felt it was for our good. 

69. Mother usually . . . father spanking when he came home at night 
. . . denied privileges and pleasures, not rebellious, 


70. Only one whipping from father . . . never forgot it ... deserved 

71. Discipline strict . . . hand applied frequently . . . was fair . . . 
deserved all we got . . . only once lied to avoid a spanking. 

72. Never whipped . . . father always tried to reason it out with me . . . 
when younger was sent to room or bed . . . little crying caused me to 
forget . . . punishment was always fair. 

73. Punished whenever I needed it ... once in a while spanked . . . 
most of the time sent to bed without a meal, this worked wonders . . . 
never punished except when necessary. 

74. Parents had quite a rigorous discipline . . . requirements explained 
as for our own good. 

75. Discipline fair . . . father very severe when angry . . . mother 
punished more frequently but less severely. 

76. Few whippings . . . doing without something we wanted. 

77. Discipline severe . . . strapped for every misdemeanor ... I did not 
like that method but since strap was laid aside I wish it was back for I 
hate tongue lashing or silence of parents . . . present method more 

effective . . . rebelled against strappings . . . tried to get out of 

78. I can appreciate it now . . . without punishment I should probably 
have been a black sheep. 

79. Remember a great many whippings ... do not hold it against my 
parents . . . reasonings would not have been as effective as whippings. 

80. Count number of whippings from mother on fingers of hand . . . 
never received whippings from father . . . confidential talk of mother 
hurt more than beating . . . entirely fair . . . rebelled when young 
. . . later realized that parents were right. 

81. Father never touched me ... mother switched us with peach tree 
switches . . . sometimes talked to us in quiet peaceful way . . . 
this had much effect. 

82. Was fair . . . rebelled against it sometimes . . . sometimes deceitful. 

83. Never rebelled . . . never practiced deceit. 

84. Whipped by mother ... do not recall practicing deceit but am sure I 

85. Whipped us ... discipline was that used by uneducated parents. 

86. Father had a violent temper . . . would punish his children too 
severely . . . mother would interfere to keep him from injuring us 
. . . after these, father was always repenter. 

87. Did what was expected through necessity and fear of father . . . 
remember only one spanking. 

88. Usually sure of punishment . . . disobeyed my parents plenty. 

89. Never unfair . . . did not always obey . . . don't remember being 
spanked . . . never small deceits. 

90. Mother instilled what she wanted me to do ... if I did not do it she 
got me to feel that it would hurt her feelings ... I realized two years 
ago that she was practicing a trick on me and rebelled against this 


91. Parents always confided in me ... rarely punished me except after 
thoughtless piece of mischief. 

92. Not often punished . . . felt we deserved it ... fullest confidence in 

93. Sometimes thought it was not fair . . . never rebelled except a few 
times . . . practiced no deceit. 

94. Fairness of their decisions prevented any feeling of rebellion . . . 
greatest respect for my parents ... I was often in the path of the 

95. Good bawling out . . . never rebelled or practiced small deceits to 
avoid it ... have respect for parents now. 

Relative Absence of Punishment. 

96. Never whipped . . . seldom scolded ... I just seemed to know what 
mother and dad wanted me to do or not do. 

97. Discipline excellent . . . obeyed every rule ... I worshipped my 

98. Guess I instinctively knew certain things I could do or not do. 

99. Obeyed mother . . . certain of her love and sincerity . . . never 
practiced deceits. 

100. Mother never gave any corporal punishments . . . always highest 
respect and love for her. 

101. Positive but kind ... no rebellion. 

102. The possibility of losing the confidence of our father was our only 
punishment . . . the tone of his voice was sufficient. 

Investigations not reported in detail here and mentioned with- 
out the supporting data have been made but are omitted, owing 
to limits of space. Among others they include the following: 

1. A series of short accounts of experiences of punishment by 
43 Negro children in Chicago public school with interviews of 
the mothers of the children. 

2. A study of the informal controls operating in high school 
groups in which the controlling influences are apparently to be 
found in the primary groups of friends and fellow students with 
the officials and teachers regarded as more or less formal and 
institutional authorities. 

3. A study of a group of sixteen boys from 9 to 12 years, 
organized for a period of two years and met for two half-days 
every week, where the control was very complete and where the 
principle was explicitly enunciated and carefully observed that 
there should be no penalties of any kind inflicted and no punish- 
ment of any nature exacted. The details of this experience are 
to be published but the results seem to be in line with the hypoth- 
esis already formed. 


4. A series of life histories numbering about 200 in which the 
intimate or primary groups are uniformly represented as those 
in which authority is absent and punishment impossible. 

The considerations advanced lead to the hypothesis that the 
variations in the relationships of family groups determine the 
type of control. With formality and externality there is punish- 
ment after the manner of the political state. Where the control 
is informal, punishment tends to be absent. Punishment in the 
family is an importation into a primary group of practices that 
could only arise in the political state. The effect of the importa- 
tion is always to destroy the primary character of the group. 

It is more than an accident in our English speech to refer to 
certain relations as impersonal. Impersonal relations are frac- 
tional in character. They can be accurately characterized as 
segmcntal. The importation into the family or the school of the 
methods of control which obtain in the strictly formal institutions 
like courts and government offices may and does produce a 
variety of effects, as the material has shown. But one effect is 
always present: there is a barrier of segmentation, a psychic 
partition, a division between the punisher and the punished. To 
say the same thing in other language : the primary group, family 
or school or any other, which uses formal methods of punishment 
loses its character as a primary group and tends to become, so 
far as these methods are used, something other than a primary 
group. For the primary group can be defined only by the nature 
of its methods and by the forms of control there obtaining. 

And it is in these relations of an intimate and personal char- 
acter that personality is formed according to the standards and 
preferences of the group. The meaning of the acts and gestures 
of the child is derived, so far as his own realization of them is 
concerned, not from what he does but from the responses he 
obtains in those primary groups of which he is a member either 
temporarily or permanently. 

We end where we began, in the assertion of the reality of the 
group. But the group is difficult, if not impossible, to identify 
in strictly and purely behavioristic terms. More than the 
external movements and bodily behavior is involved. The per- 
sonality is a role as conceived. My friend is my imagination or 
conception of expected action and response. The sociologist 
feels impelled to imagine imaginations. The primary group is 


one where the relations are unimpeded by formal and fractional 
segmentation. It consists in the relations. 

Harshness, antagonism, and conflict are just as important for 
the understanding of personality as are harmony, concord, and 
cooperation. But it is important to know what type of relations 
gives rise to those effects and what type produces these. And if 
the thought of the writer is at all clearly expressed, it would 
appear that the study of group relations in their differential 
aspects should throw much light on the way in which personality 
growth takes place in the children of a given society. 

There is reason to hope that sociological investigations will 
yet yield results comparable in significance to those obtained in 
the other natural sciences. Neither the complex character of 
the material nor the emotional tone of some of the conclusions 
would appear to be insuperable difficulties. If the problem of 
punishment were to be completely solved, it would be a triumph 
of the human intellect comparable in importance to any of the 
notable triumphs of science in the past. 



Within recent years the concept " Social Attitude " has been 
used by a number of writers with a content sufficiently consistent 
to warrant the serious consideration of this term. Thomas, 1 
Dewey, 2 Park and Burgess, 3 Williams, 4 Koffka, 5 Allport, 6 and 
Bogardus, 7 among others, have employed the concept, though 
not with identical meanings. For an even longer period the 
writer has had a graduate course with this title, originally offered 
by W. I. Thomas. 

One would not need to be hypercritical to find inconsistencies 
and incompatibilities in the various definitions (Thomas, for 
example, defines attitude as a conscious process) yet the emphasis 
on behavior and the ultimate expression in movement runs 
through them all. Important nuances of behavior are distin- 
guished in the use of marginal conceptions such as Disposition, 
Impulse, Habit, Instinct, Reflex, and even Wish and Desire, but 
it is possible to use the term " attitude" as a general notion to 
describe the tendency to perform actions of a describable and 
identifiable sort. 

The logical significance of the concept lies in the change of 
emphasis from sensation to behavior, from receptivity to spon- 
taneity and innate or acquired motor tendencies. This dis- 
tinguishes the approach from that of traditional psychology and 
from some aspects of behaviorism where the problem is to describe 
the "reaction" to a "stimulus" and where the sense organs are 
described as "receptors." But there is another logical difference 
which is essentially a shift of emphasis from a timeless principle 

1 The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. 

2 Human Nature and Conduct. 
8 Introduction to Sociology. 

4 Foundations of Social Science. 

6 "Gestalt Psychology," Psychology Bulletin, 1922. 

6 Social Psychology. 

7 Fundamentals of Social Psychology. 



or force to a concrete event. This marks off the " Attitude" 
psychologists from the "Instinctivists." An attitude has been 
variously designated as a gesture, an incomplete act, or a tend- 
ency to act. Some attitudes are overtly motor and muscular, 
though we also speak of " mental attitudes," where the behavior 
is delayed or only expected, yet always possible. 

Approached in this general way, one may speak of attitudes 
under certain broad dichotomies. Thus we may divide attitudes 
into the hereditary and the acquired. Some tendencies are 
inherited, as the tendency of the duckling in respect to water, or 
the grasping and sucking reflexes of children. Thomas speaks 
of these as " temperamental attitudes." Other attitudes are 
acquired under social pressure and definition, as the vegetarian- 
ism of Hindus or Polynesian cannibalism. These are social 
attitudes, though they are individual phenomena. 

Another dichotomy is that of conscious and unconscious 
attitudes. For there are unconscious attitudes. Williams 
in the work cited discusses judicial attitudes as seen in the 
five-to-four decisions of the Supreme Court, made consistently 
over a long period, and explicable only on the assumption of an 
unconscious bias or attitude. Other attitudes are conscious, 
such as one's attitude toward carrots or the Ku Klux or Hoover. 

A third division may not be quite so obvious but is valuable 
and even essential to make, namely, the distinction between 
group attitudes and individual attitudes. Both are "social 
attitudes" in the sense above indicated, but the group attitudes 
also exist. This is probably what the French writers mean by 
representations collectives. Perhaps the two other invaluable 
French notions, morale and esprit de corps, also refer to certain 
phenomena which we may call group attitudes, that is, to collec- 
tive phenomena which are not mere summations. By individual 
attitude we may designate not merely the subjective aspect of 
any group tendency or cultural element but, more particularly 
and more usefully, the divergent and differentiated tendencies. 
The individual manifestation of race prejudice cannot be under- 
stood apart from a consideration of group attitudes. In collect- 
ing data it often happens that the investigator finds cases of the 
acquisition of a prejudice with astonishing suddenness and as the 
result of a single experience. But this could happen only in a 
milieu where there was a pre-existing group attitude. One who 


has no Negro prejudice may acquire it from a single unpleasant 
encounter, but it is the group attitude that makes it possible for 
him to acquire it. An exactly similar experience with a red- 
headed person would not result in the same sort of red-head 
prejudice in the absence of any defining group attitude. More- 
over, in the United States, prejudice against mulattoes means 
always prejudice against black people. In South Africa and in 
Brazil, where mulattoes are not classed with black people, the 
outcome would be very different owing to the different group 

With regard to any attitude it is helpful to observe that it may 
be either latent or kinetic. These familiar words from physics 
are perhaps self-explanatory. All attitudes are not always 
active. We may call a girl's liking for ice cream an attitude, but 
it is not active or kinetic most of the time. An attitude is kinetic 
if there is actual motion or tension, for the test or criterion is to 
be found in motor behavior. An attitude may be kinetic without 
any observable or objective motion. Consider the difference 
between the two types of habit represented, respectively, by the 
ability to write and the tendency to excessive drinking of liquors, 
which we may call a "bad habit." Both these habits are atti- 
tudes, but the first is (in Dewey's words) a tool to be used when 
needed and active only then, while the second is not so. A bad 
habit intrudes and breaks in. It is like a compressed spring or a 
pneumatic pressure-cylinder. The tendency arises and deter- 
mines the attention but may be the occasion of much disturbance 
even when unrecognized. The unconscious kinetic attitudes are 
the chief concern of the psychoanalysts. 

A central problem in this field is the relation of attitudes to 
objective phenomena. Thomas states this as reciprocally causal, 
and sequential. "The cause of an attitude is always a value 
and a pre-existing attitude," This is stated to be equivalent to 
saying that every individual phenomenon has both individual 
and social causes. This may be true, but there is another relation 
which the statement leaves out of account. It is the relation 
between the subjective individual tendency and the external 
value ("object" is a better term). Now this relation is not 
causal or sequential but denotes rather the double aspect of one 
phenomenon. The attitude is toward an object and the object is, 
in some sense, the externalization of the attitude. Neither causes 


the other, either with or without help. They appear together in 

It follows that attitudes are just as social as objects and that 
objects are just as individual as attitudes. Both objects and 
attitudes have both individual and social antecedents and both 
are aspects and results of organization. This relation is assumed 
in the investigation of attitudes which takes the form of question- 
naires, concerning not attitudes but objects, and yet which reveal 
attitudes as counterparts. To ask a man whether he is a 
reactionary, conservative, progressive, radical, or revolutionary 
is to demand information which may be difficult, even if the 
subject is willing. But to ask such a one to give his estimate of 
Coolidge, Wilson, Davis, Gompers, Foster, and Debs is to ask 
not for his attitudes but for his objects and to get information 
on both. A man's world is the external aspect of his character; 
his personality is the subjective aspect of the culture of a group. 

The problem of the genesis of attitudes is one aspect of the 
general problem of emotional disorganization and rational 
reorganization concerning which there is a very large literature. 
New objects do not arise merely as effects of social values and 
preceding attitudes but as a result of conflict, crisis, and redintegra- 
tion, wherein social and individual forces and antecedents are in 
some form of opposition. The present need here for investigation 
is the study of types of crises and the collecting of new attitudes 
in their genesis. But the new phenomenon is always an attitude- 
object or object-attitude. When the draft law made the declara- 
tion of war mean something, millions of people redefined the 
United States. The results were a new country (new object) 
and a new patriotism (new attitude). 

Defined in this way, social attitudes are sometimes spoken of 
as the elements of personality. Personality consists of attitudes 
organized with reference to a group into a system more or less 
complete. A social attitude is not the mobilization of the will of 
the person but the residual tendency that has resulted from such 
a " mobilization" and the subsequent campaign. 

This brings up the relation of attitudes to wishes and par- 
ticularly to The Wishes. Here there is at present some confusion. 
It is a good field for research and analysis. Some writers speak 
of attitudes composed of smaller or simpler elements called 
wishes (Park), while others use the words in a way difficult to 


distinguish. The most obvious and to me the most useful dis- 
tinction seems not to have been clearly stated. A wish is 
obviously an incomplete act, a forward-looking movement with 
a future satisfaction as an essential characteristic. An attitude 
is, on the other hand, the result of organization, the residuum of 
activity, coming at the end of the satisfaction of some wishes 
and remaining to initiate other wishes but not related to wishes 
as whole to parts. Those who write of "The Four Wishes" 
apparently mean types of attitudes, or perhaps classes of 

Space forbids the discussion of appreciative and descriptive 
attitudes (following Royce) and of the value of such classifica- 
tions as are inherent in complex group organization and the 
division of labor. The concrete and factual nature of the 
concept has already resulted in valuable researches. This is in 
marked contrast with the paralyzing sterility of the instinct 
concept which dominated this field for so long but which is, 
fortunately, being very rapidly discarded. 


It may well be that the future historian of social psychology 
in America will record that the concept of social attitudes came 
into general acceptance in response to an unwitting search for 
some release from a sterile absolutism. The quest for the innate 
and universal tendencies went on for thirty years as an attempt 
to discover the exact list of the human instincts. The major 
premise of that search was the assumption that, just as the ant, 
the bee, and the beaver showed fixed and ineradicable behavior 
patterns that could be described in picturesque words, so also 
with man. 

But by 1920 the earnest attempt to secure some fruitful list 
had become so discouraging that doubt was cast on the theory 
itself. A short-lived tendency to name these invariable units 
by some other noun was far less successful. The reflexes, potent, 
prepotent, and impotent, were too thinly disguised and failed 
to secure any enthusiasm. In vain was it contended that those 
reflexes could be modified by social experience; for the instinct- 
psychologist had long since retreated from his criterion of 
" specificity." 

That the effort to find the unalterable list of elements was still 
continued by writers on social psychology only reveals the diffi- 
culty with which men part with the predilections of their early 
years. The presidential address of the American Psychological 
Association one year was delivered by a social psychologist 1 who 
had given up the older instinct doctrine but substituted an equally 
neat list of " desires. " It was so difficult to break away from 
individualistic conceptions and become truly social in the initial 
assumptions that few men saw the issue. The sociologists had 
been emphasizing the group, and the growth of a sociological 
consciousness had already affected ethics, economics, political 

1 Knight Dunlap. The same position was taken in his Social Psychology, 



science, and religion, but to psychology the sociologist seemed 
to go with his hat in his hand, not presuming to carry out the logic 
of his own premises. 

Even when Thomas first introduced in an impressive way his 
concept of attitudes and values, the full significance of the change 
had not penetrated. For at first the attitude represented chiefly 
an insistence on the dynamic and moving aspect of all experience, 
in contrast to the " states of consciousness" of traditional 
psychology. There still remained the instinctive equipment and 
an arresting quartet of wishes which set the young graduate 
students in sociology by the ears. 

One of the men who saw the issue plain and clear was J. M. 
Williams. His books appeared in rapid succession, though they 
were written with becoming leisure and with careful and pains- 
taking method. To Williams social psychology was the science 
of attitudes and in his excellent work, Our Rural Heritage, he 
gives an account of the attitudes of the New York farmers, 
deriving them from the social experiences and showing how chang- 
ing conditions in the second period of farm life brought about 
new attitudes. 

When Znaniecki published his Laws of Social Psychology, he 
preferred a different terminology but revealed plainly his insight 
that the acts and experiences are the determining antecedents 
beyond which it was not profitable or even possible to seek any 
stable elements or absolutes. 1 

But the first thoroughgoing and unequivocal statement of the 
logical outcome of the new movement was made by John Dewey 
in his Human Nature and Conduct. It was a conscious break 
with the older view and a clear statement of the relation between 
institutions and cultural forms and the attitudes (habits) of 
individual persons, the attitudes which are the self, the habits 
which are the will. "The instincts do not make the institutions: 
it is the institutions that make the instincts." The old units are 
thoroughly repudiated and the new ones are shown to be formed 
afresh in every concrete readjustment of a man and his fellows. 

It is well for changes to come slowly, but it would seem that 
sociologists have been over-slow to grasp the liberating significance 
of this concept of social attitudes which has so much of value for 

1 See also ATKINS, W. E. and H. D. LASSWELL, Labor Attitudes and Problems, 


their work. The concept of the mores with the emphasis on 
their mutability and their power has influenced other fields. But 
the stubborn individual yet remained, and the fluid character of 
social life congealed against the absolutes of his inborn equipment. 
Yet social attitudes, once they are grasped in their full signifi- 
cance, become the counterpart in individual equipment of the 
richly varied customs of the peoples of the world differing as 
customs differ, from land to land, and changing as the mores 
change, from age to age. For the social attitudes of individuals 
are but the specific instances in individuals of the collective 
phenomena which the sociologists have labored for a century to 
bring to the consciousness of their colleagues in social science. 

Now the nature and growth of the mores has been made known 
to a satisfactory degree by the work of Germans like Wundt and 
Ratzenhofer, by Frenchmen like Durkheim and Lvy-Bruhl, by 
Englishmen like Marett and Frazer, and by Americans like 
Sumner and Small, and much has been learned that the present 
generation can use. 

No longer are we compelled to puzzle and confuse ourselves 
with a set and fixed scheme of social evolution with fixed stages 
and inevitable sequences. We are free from the dogma of eco- 
nomic determinism or any determinism. We know that culture 
is neither in the blood nor in the germ-plasm and that race means 
nothing as compared with the experience and activities of the 
group we are to study. Gone is the ancient doctrine of child- 
races, the infantile picture of primitive man is obsolete, and the 
mind patterns of a people are known to result from what they do 
and say, from what is said and done to them by man and nature. 

Institutions are not produced by the instincts. Warfare makes 
men warlike and churches make men religious. It is clear that 
culture precedes particular individuals, that cultural patterns 
were ancient when you and I were young, and that the key to 
the varying attitudes is to be sought in culture history, culture 
contact, and social change. 

The logic of this compels attention to the dilemmas that older 
men of another day encountered. It was assumed that man has, 
universally, a fighting instinct. It was discovered that some 
peoples are peaceful war being unknown among them. What 
can be said, then? Only one thing such peoples are defective. 
Just as a monster might be born with one eye, or with no arms, 


so some defective peoples appeared as sports, without the fighting 
instinct. The weakness of the argument is on the surface. The 
instincts were not discovered or even formed in the antecedent 
equipment at all they were but psychological pilferings from the 
sociological treasure-house. 

And the refutation of all this follows quickly upon that com- 
parison in time and place which results in a study of social origins. 
We find art to be universal in human societies but it is not diffi- 
cult to show that artistic activities, practices, and products 
arose from activities that were not artistic. Religion is ubiqui- 
tous (if we are careful to define religion in broad enough terms) 
but none of the differentia of religion were religious when they 
began. Likewise morals are everywhere, but the mores can make 
anything right, and can prevent condemnation of anything and 
the private individual consciousness is the still small voice of 
one's people giving its warning in words and precepts that are 
never at variance with the highest ideals of the time and the area. 

It is to the group, then, that we turn for the genesis of social 
attitudes which are profitably studied in the separate members of 
these groups. The social psychologist is interested in personality, 
and personality might almost be defined as the organization and 
ordering of one's attitudes. The group attitudes are selected in 
the individual person; public opinion is represented in individual 
opinion; and personality is the subjective aspect of culture. 

It will be very unfortunate if the discussion of social attitudes 
degenerates into a quarrel over terminology, for there is no more 
certain symptom of the immature state of a science than a 
persistent and bitter logomachy. Thomas, in collaboration with 
Znaniccki, secured the adoption of the term attitude, but when the 
latter wrote "on his own" he gave careful reasons why this term 
is not a good one. " Attitudes" seemed to Znaniecki too static 
a term. He preferred to call them tendencies. And this, in spite 
of the fact that the chief argument for the new view by Thomas 
was that the older states of consciousness of traditional psychology 
seemed too objectionable on account of their static implications. 
Graham Wallas suggested that we compromise on the term 
dispositions as a sort of neutral word, since what we are talking 
about represents a disposition to act or think in a certain way. 
Dewey likes to call them habits, with the caution that some habits 
which have become automatic and mechanical are mere inert tools 


to be used in the service of some more dynamic urge. "Habit" 
is thus a trifle ambiguous, but it is easier to see clearly what is 
indicated if we think of the analogy of bad habits, which do not 
rest quiescent till we want to use them but intrude upon our 
consciousness and insist on initiating their type of action. (This 
is a figurative statement but the figure is a good one.) But 
whether we speak of attitudes, of habits, of tendencies, or of 
dispositions is no great matter. In fact it is utterly irrelevant 
if so be that we are careful to know just what we are talking about. 
The world would be impatient with a physicist who should arise 
to remark that the X rays are not really X rays at all. They 
are Roentgen rays. If the physicists were as much obsessed with 
logomachies as are some social psychologists, we might even have 
some scholar write a whole chapter insisting that they are not 
X rays but that really and in truth they are A rays, since they 
came at the beginning of the knowledge of radioactivity, and that 
it would be well to suspend work on them till we could agree on 
the matter of terminology. 

It is, then, of small moment indeed, it is utterly unimportant 
whether we refer to these as one thing or another if only we are 
clear as to the phenomena in human experience and behavior that 
we are indicating. It is the denotative aspect of a word that is 
important. The necessity of concepts is not minimized by the 
insistent demand that we should think of what the term stands 
for and not lose time in arguing about the symbol. The true 
sciences never dispute about words. We shall have arrived 
where we long to be when we can just as conveniently substitute 
numbers or letters of the alphabet for the concept and feel that 
we have lost nothing in the shift. For it is a disadvantage when 
the concept itself carries an emotional aura in its word-associa- 
tion and we should free ourselves from this easily transcended 

If, then, thinking denotatively, we inquire into the nature of 
an attitude, it appears that it is "an acquired predisposition to 
ways or modes of response, not to particular acts except as, under 
special conditions, these express a way of behaving " l 

An attitude of devotion to one's mother is something which 
can be investigated and concerning which confident and demon- 
strable assertions can be made in particular cases. But we cannot 

1 DEWEY, JOHN, Human Nature and Conduct, 1922, p. 42. 


know what particular act will be performed toward one's mother 
on account of the existence of this attitude. The attitude is a 
way of conceiving an object; it is the mental counterpart of an 
object. There is no confusion in calling it mental in the light of 
our knowledge that mental processes are integrally related to 
actions, are the result of delayed completion of actions, and are 
the preconditions of subsequent actions. 

To illustrate further: we can investigate and learn to make 
confident assertions as to the existence of attitudes of individuals 
and groups of individuals on war, the church, and prohibition. 
Thurstone has produced laborious but effective devices for the 
determination of these three classes of attitudes in a group of 
chosen individuals. In these cases, as in most attitudes, there is 
a positive or a negative affective tone. The attitude is "for" or 
"against" the church, war, or prohibition. But the exact and 
specific act which any individual will perform is not known by 
knowing his attitude. All we can say is that when the time comes 
to act the attitude will enter in as an essential factor in the out- 
come. But in a crisis the attitude may change and the action be 

There is one type of situation that has received much attention 
from social psychologists in which the attitude and the act bear a 
closer relation. I refer to the picturesque phenomena of crowd 
psychology and mob psychology. Once we had discovered the 
fallacy of the older imitation psychology, we were prepared for 
the insight that made it clear that in the psychological crowd 
which acts under the excitement of a leader the unity of the crowd 
depends on the possession of a common attitude which is brought 
into the focus of consciousness and made kinetic. Hatred of 
race, in an angry mob, is evoked and intensified; other attitudes 
are thrust into the background, and the suggested acts are in 
harmony with the attitudes to which the appeal is made. The 
psychology of persuasion and of salesmanship is due to a similar 
mechanism. The extreme form of this same condition is found 
in hypnotism. 

Attitudes are, then, causally related to action, but many acts 
are strangely at variance with attitudes which the actor can be 
shown to possess. This is due, of course, to the simultaneous 
possession of many and even conflicting attitudes and to the 
varying way in which situations are defined so as to bring one 


attitude or another into the focus of attention and thus into 
kinetic operation. 

The exact relation of attitudes to actions is of such importance 
that we may well inquire somewhat more carefully into the matter. 
This leads us to inquire into the genesis of attitudes. Thomas's 
formulation has influenced all writers on the subject. To him 
the cause of an attitude was never another attitude but always 
depended on another attitude and a "value," which was the term 
he preferred for the objective existences in the world. The series 
is typically, for him: attitude value attitude, or, value 
attitude value. 

Thus, if we have as a starting-point an attitude a and as a result an 
attitude m, the evolution may have gone on in such a way that out of a, 
under the influence of a value B, is evolved the attitude d\ out of d, 
under the influence of /, the attitude k and k, under the influence of a 
value N, was changed into the attitude m. But it might have happened 
also that a was influenced not by B, but by C, and the result was a 
different attitude e, which again under the influence not of F, but of G, 
gave t, and t, when influenced by L, also produced m. And the same 
can be said of values. 1 

The utility of this scheme, depending as it does on the separa- 
tion of attitudes and values, or objects, and linking them together 
in a causal series seems to prove disappointing in experience 
when an effort is made to discover the genesis of any particular 
attitude in any particular person or group. In the first place, 
the sequence is not convincingly apparent. The attitude and 
the value, or object, seem to exist always as two aspects of a 
single unity of organization. Thus, if a man confesses to a 
prejudice against the Negro race, there is to be distinguished 
an attitude (of prejudice, hostility, withdrawal) toward an object 
which is the Negro race. The object, or value, is as much a 
part of the individual experience as is the attitude. It is, in 
effect, the externalization of the attitude, just as the attitude is 
the subjective counterpart of the object. For there seems to 
be the necessity of recognizing that objects, or values, are not 
the same to two people who have different attitudes. The 
church is not the same object to one who hates it as to one who 
loves it. The flag is not the same to the devoted patriot as to 

1 The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (2d ed.), 1927, pp. 1839-1840. 


the conspiring traitor. The value and the attitude are two 
aspects of the same experience. 

It follows from this that one cannot experience a new object 
without experiencing at the same time a new attitude. The 
object is that toward which the attitude is directed. The attitude 
is the tendency toward a mode of response, toward the object in 

If, now, we inquire as to the changes in attitudes and the 
formation of new ones we are assisted when we recall that 
attitudes, like habits, represent the stable and organized aspects 
of a personality and that these tend to persist so long as they work 
well and allow our conduct to proceed in a satisfactory way. 
The key to our problem lies, it seems to me, in the concept of 
cristSy which Thomas himself has made so prominent in his earlier 
writings. A crisis is to be found just in those situations where 
existing attitudes fail to apply and where existing objects fail to 
satisfy our expectations. 

A student once wrote an account of the relatively sudden 
acquisition of a new racial prejudice, due to two unpleasant 
experiences with the members of the race in question. He had 
approached the experience with a favorable attitude toward an 
object which he defined in a certain favorable way. When the 
critical events occurred which changed his attitude, what 
happened was a brief period of confusion, surprise, and mental 
uncertainty. After he had reflected on the unpleasant and dis- 
turbing events, the result in this case was the simultaneous 
acquisition of a new and unfavorable attitude toward an object 
which he had never had before. That object was now repulsive 
where it had formerly been attractive. The experience is then 
always attitude-object or object-attitude. It is sometimes pos- 
sible to get information about the attitudes of a person by merely 
asking him what his attitude is. But experience has proved 
that sometimes it is more exact and fruitful to inquire how a man 
defines particular objects; for the definition of the object may 
be a better revelation of the attitude than any attempt to 
describe it directly would be. One example of this is furnished 
by an attempt to discover the relative liberalism or conservatism 
of a series of informants. Subjects were asked to define a list 
of men as to whether they were liberal or conservative or radical. 
And it is clear that, when one man insisted that the late Samuel 


Gompers was a radical and another put him down as a con- 
servative, much relevant information was received about the 
attitudes, even more than if another type of approach had been 
attempted. Such judgment gives little information about the 
"real" Gompers but it does reveal that he is a different person to 
a conservative businessman on the one hand, and to a communist 
agitator on the other. The value does not "cause" the attitude. 
Both value and attitude arise when a former value-attitude 
proves impossible of adequate functioning. 

Every attitude is, then, the resolution of a crisis, the solution 
of a difficulty, the end of a period of chaos, the termination of a 
moment of disorganization. The marvel is not that attitudes 
differ, but that they are so often alike or at least so similar that 
common action is possible, and the reason for this seems to be 
that a man who is puzzled and uncertain is usually humble 
enough to receive help where he can find it and that in the 
absence of a solution which he vainly seeks he is ready to accept 
the help of others. For thinking is a hard task, the outcome is 
uncertain, and the human mind at its best barely works. 

Thus the new convert to a sect is often one who, puzzled and 
confused at the diversities of the world, accepts the solution that 
is given to him with convincing assurance, and he is ready to 
define his world as he is taught, even if this means taking on new 
attitudes that earlier he would have regarded as absurd or 
impossible. When medical science fails or blunders, and no relief 
is in sight, the doctrine that sickness and pain do not exist is 
better than no doctrine at all. Uncertainty and suspense are 
hard to endure, and any organization is better than none. 

This is why the knowledge of an attitude will never enable us 
to predict what a man will do in a crisis. For a crisis is just that 
situation in which the man is so confused that he does not know 
what to do. If there is an impending emergency and a man 
has a complete plan to meet it, there is no crisis, for the emer- 
gency has really been foreseen. A crisis defined in advance and 
adequately prepared for is not a crisis. 

The subjective or hidden nature of an attitude has given much 
concern to those writers who have a leaning toward behaviorism 
and who hesitate to admit the relevance of any data which are 
not immediately accessible to sense. Attitudes are not acts, 
they are predispositions. If they were predispositions to specific 


and definite acts the difficulty would be less, but attitudes are 
tendencies toward modes of action and do not have any one-to-one 
correspondence to specific responses to stimulations. And thus a 
difficulty arises since, in strict phrase, an attitude, however real, 
must always be inferential. 

The early reaction to the doctrine of attitudes obscured this 
fact by assuming that attitudes are immediately revealed in the 
opinions and statements which are easily obtained by direct 
approach. And this inaugurated a questionnaire era of research 
on attitudes. Subjects checked off prepared statements, or filled 
in dotted lines, or responded to interviewers, the statement 
recorded being assumed to have an immediate and unequivocal 
relation to the attitudes. Because the results were very dis- 
appointing there was a reaction against the concept, but the 
error was due not to the mistaken notion of the existence of 
attitudes, but rather to an inadequate position concerning the 
psychology of opinion. We must turn briefly to this point. 

An expression of opinion is clearly an act. The act is, just as 
clearly, the result of the play of attitudes. But it is not true 
that the particular attitude that is sought has been involved. 
For there are other aspects in the total situation which may, and 
often do, call out attitudes quite different from the object of the 
investigation. A person's response to a question may be indica- 
tive of his real attitude toward the object involved, or it may be 
determined, not by that attitude at all, but by the attitude 
toward the questioner or by still other objects which are impor- 
tant and determinative. 

A question about one's attitude toward sex may be answered 
entirely with reference to the attitude toward the questioner. 
A question about religion may be answered under the operation 
of an attitude toward the group in which the man questioned 
lives. It is only in those relatively infrequent moments when we 
are caught "off our guard* ' that attitudes and statements of 
opinion correspond. We get a perfect correspondence in those 
situations where a man " gives himself away." 

Expressed opinions are actions, since they require us to write 
or to speak; and to ask a man to express his opinion on a given 
issue is to introduce into his experience at the moment an indefi- 
nite number of potentially active attitudes. When a given 
expression of opinion is found to be inconsistent with the "real" 


attitude, it only means that the psychologist has been guilty 
of a misinterpretation. For every act is the expression of 
existing attitudes and these sometimes occur in simultaneous 

Nor is it any serious objection to the concept of attitudes to 
insist that they are subjective and hidden, for much of human 
life is inner, and unless we can formulate some scientific account 
of the processes that are inaccessible to the eye of the observer, 
we shall fail to have a science of human nature. Cooley's insight 
was never more profound than when he wrote that the solid 
facts of our human life exist in the imagination. A jury may 
be called upon to decide the question of whether a given act was 
suicide or accidental death or whether a defendant is guilty of 
first degree murder or of accidental homicide. The data on 
which their decision is based are objective but the decision 
concerns the presence or absence of motives, the existence or 
non-existence of attitudes. Social psychology might conceiv- 
ably limit its field to the overt and observable, but in that event 
we should need another science that would investigate just 
these facts that are so important and so difficult. 

The importance of the insight that attitudes are the acquired 
modes of response lies in the reality that it lends to the problems 
of personality and to the liberation that comes when the muta- 
bility of social life finds its counterpart in individual change. 
The old absolutisms are seen to be ex post facto devices, revers- 
ing the causal relation between the individual tendencies and the 
cultural facts. We are free to investigate the attitudes of 
Bolsheviks and of Fascists, of labor leaders and of capitalists, 
of newspaper reporters and of farmers, of judges and of business- 
men, with none of the misleading impediments that formerly 
blinded men to the facts of human life and experience. 

And the research in this field has already been important and 
promising. Thomas and Znaniecki found the attitudes of 
Polish peasants possible of statement and made them convincing 
when presented. l Williams 2 has set forth the attitudes of judges, 
ministers, and other professional men and followed this work with 
a monograph on the farmers of northern New York. 3 Atkins and 

1 The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (2d ed.), 2 vols., 1927. 
8 The Foundations of Social Science, 1920. 
1 Our Rural Heritage, 1925. 


Lasswell made a convincing study of the attitudes of laborers, 1 
and in the University of Chicago studies in the making of citizens, 
edited by C. E. Merriam, a whole series of volumes is presented 
on the subject of the systematic attempts of governments to 
produce desired attitudes in the children. Specific researches 
have been carried on to discover the existence of attitudes, and 
scales of measurement have been produced, notably by 

The controversial literature on attitudes is extensive and leads 
gradually to a consideration of types, traits, and opinion, with 
abundant promise of more accurate methods than have been 
hitherto available. The problems studied are sometimes unim- 
portant and perhaps often irrelevant but the gain in an objective 
attitude toward human nature is real, and the promise for a 
science of personality is enough to encourage those whose lives 
are devoted to the quest. 

It seems to have been inevitable that the Greek injunction to 
know thyself should be the last of scientific achievements to be 
realized. We are yet far from a complete realization of it. But 
we are confidently at work and, when the story is at last told, it 
will be recorded that the insight provided by the concept of social 
attitudes, for which we are indebted to W. I. Thomas, came when 
it was needed and furnished an interesting and usable tool of 

When we shall be able to state completely how and why our 
attitudes occur, and how and why they are modified, we shall be 
in a better position to understand human life, and social psy- 
chology will begin to pay back its debt to society. 

1 Labor Attitudes and Problems, 1924. 


It is several years since psychology was first defined as the 
science of behavior. The significance of this formulation lies in 
the recognition of the importance of action and movement and the 
necessity of including more than the description and explanation 
of mental states. The beneficial results of the new conception 
were destined to be delayed by the rise, a few years later, of a 
vigorous and aggressive group who took up the word " behavior/' 
added an "ism," and insisted that psychology was obsolete and 
that movement and action could alone be made the subject of 
scientific investigation. Thought, feeling, and imagination were 
found difficult to study; so, in order to save labor, their very 
existence was denied. The behaviorist boasts of the fact that he 
has no mind, and glories in his inability to think. 

While it is too early to evaluate the effect of this last chapter in 
our current history, it is very clear that, along with the gain that 
has resulted in emphasizing objective observation, there has been 
a loss in more than one direction. We have witnessed, in the 
first place, a terrifying creation of neologisms which appear to 
be mere translations of our familiar terms into awkward and 
inferior phrases. Instead of "imagination" we read of "neuro- 
psychic behavior reaction patterns," and instead of "thought" 
we are forced to hear of "implicit laryngeal behavior," as if 
suppressed speech did not include scores of other structures and 
muscles. It may provoke a laugh for a behaviorist to refer to 
his indecision by saying: "On that point I have not yet made 
up my larynx," but a phenomenon is neither explained nor 
explained away by the mere coining of a new phrase. 

Another effect of the behavioristic mutiny has been more seri- 
ous for science. I refer to the tendency to limit the concept of 
action to the overt and visible. Just when the American 
psychologists were in a position to profit by the discoveries of 
Angell, Dewey, Mead, and their colleagues which enabled us to 



regard thought and reflection as phases of action, and to continue 
our researches with the insight into the nature of imagination 
as a constructive process made necessary because existing habits 
were inadequate and in order that new ways of action might be 
discovered just when we had reached this point, the young men 
began to be informed that "the whole traditional clutter of 
conscious states and subjective concepts must be thrown over- 
board." Of course anyone who owns the ship and its contents 
can throw overboard any or all of the cargo, however valuable, 
but intelligent men will salvage it if possible. The psychologist 
can throw overboard tendencies to act, emotions, sentiments, 
wishes, and desires, but men who live and work will not throw 
them overboard. Courts of law will not throw them overboard, 
nor employers of men, nor lovers, nor parents, nor teachers. 
Psychologists can neglect the important aspects of human 
nature whenever they feel incompetent to deal with them, but 
then some other workers will arise who will try to make us under- 
stand what men live by, and how, and why. There is a lesson 
for psychologists in that other outlaw movement known as 
psychoanalysis, which built so formidable a structure on nothing 
but desires and wishes, conscious and unconscious. For it is 
inevitable that one extreme should beget another. 

One particular phase of the current denial of the importance 
of the subjective aspect of experience has arisen as a criticism of 
the concept of attitude initiated by Symonds 1 and elaborated by 
Bain, 2 The spirited attack of the latter writer seems to make 
timely the attempt to state anew some of the more elementary 
aspects of the act and the relation to action of attitudes, desires, 
wishes, opinions, and objects. It is not proposed to make any 
original contribution at this time. The purpose of this discussion 
is to set forth a constructive statement of what some of us found 
to our surprise was not the common property of social psycholo- 
gists. Let us begin with "actions." 

Human life consists of actions, but between one act and another 
we sometimes rest. There are valleys of calm between the 
mountains of endeavor. Raup's excellent and suggestive volume 
on complacency states this calm or rest as, in some sense, the end 

1 See Psychological Bulletin, March, 1927, p. 200. 

2 See The American Journal of Sociology, XXXIII (May, 1928), pp. 940- 


or purpose of the striving or action. The gestalt psychologists 
refer to the same phenomenon under the term " equilibrium." 
If I read Woodworth and Hollingsworth aright, the same notion 
is set forth in their words. From this it follows that action in 
general is divided into separate acts in particular. Moreover, 
these separate acts can be shown to have a beginning and an 
ending. Some of them also have a middle, which is the main 
reason why there must be psychologists as well as behav- 
iorists. For it is in the middle or mediating phase of cer- 
tain of our acts that subjective experiences occur and become 

The actions of men are not only separate and distinct events ; 
they have also a structure or form. There is a temporal gestalt , a 
configuration, an organization. When an act is ended it is possi- 
ble to describe its consummation in terms of experience. In our 
major collective activities this consummation is usually marked 
by a formal ceremony, hence the " dedication" of public buildings, 
the formal ritual of degrees in colleges, the solemn signing of 
peace treaties and articles of agreement. But the separate 
actions of individuals have the same character, and it is possible 
to describe accurately the feeling of satisfaction or dissatisfaction 
when the act, enterprise, or project is done, finished, consum- 
mated. For the act is not merely a series of movements, but 
rather a series of movements plus some goal of endeavor, some 
end in view. Movements are integrated into acts by the fact 
that there is an imagined end and a felt unity. Even the most 
overt behavior receives its essential character from subjective 
experience. The mistress may insist that the task is not done, 
while the maid may contend that all is finished. There is no 
question of the movements performed; it is a matter of differing 
subjective pictures of what was intended. 

But if actions have an ending they also have a beginning, and 
the beginning is an integral part of the act just as truly as the 
beginning of a race is part of a race or the beginning of a lecture 
is part of the lecture. And here appears another chapter of 
disaster in the ruthless unloading of the cargo by the behaviorists 
in throwing overboard desires, purposes, and subjective states. 
For, while there are mechanical movements, such as absent- 
minded acts, which have no purpose, our significant behavior has 
its beginning in a type of experience for which we use such words 


as "intent," "purpose," "motive." The effort which we have 
so often witnessed, of late, to treat the movements only and 
leave to some other pseudo-science the study of the subjective 
has the ludicrous result of identifying actions which are utterly 
different. There is a difference between murder and accidental 
homicide, though the movements may be identical. There is 
a difference between suicide and accidental death. Dr. Cavan 
found, in her study of suicide, that it was highly profitable to 
study the "death wishes" of men, for the wish to die is incipient 
suicide. To give money sacrificially to aid a good cause is not 
the same as to give a like amount to curry favor with the public. 
To say that the act is the same but the motive is different is to 
miss the essential nature of both. The two acts are quite differ- 
ent, for the outer without the inner is no more the whole act than 
the inner apart from the outer. Behavior without purpose is 
accident; purpose without behavior is reverie. The planned act 
has both imagination and movement. 

There are some acts that approach the automatic and the 
mechanical. Some of the reflexes would be included in this class, 
and certain learned activities which are evoked by an appropriate 
stimulus. The operation of the brakes on a motor car or even 
the quick turning of the wheel in view of a sudden obstruction 
are typical of such automatisms. We may speak of these as 
"immediate" acts. The word "instinctively" is often used to 
describe the behavior, though the coordination is, of course, an 
acquisition. More important for this discussion is the class of 
acts which we call "reflective," actions which require deliberation, 
planning, reasoning, thinking out a means of meeting the exigency. 
These acts occur when the situation is contingent and there is 
no immediate means at hand to enable the action to go on to 
completion or consummation. There is uncertainty both within 
and without, both externally and internally. The situation 
is imperfectly defined since and because there is no response 
ready to be made. In the full sense of the word there is neither 
stimulus nor response; instead of a stimulus there is an ambiguity 
or vagueness toward which we would like to act, while instead of a 
response there is an urge or tension which we do not know how to 
release. "I cannot understand this letter; I do not know what 
to make of him; I wonder what I ought to do." It is in the 
attempt to solve problems by means of reflection that the phe- 


nomena of imagination, meaning, desires, and wishes force them- 
selves on the attention of the psychologist. 

In order to show that attitudes considered as tendencies to 
action are essential to the adequate interpretation of behavior, it 
is mainly necessary to emphasize the temporal character of the 
action. Even the quickest act requires a measurable time-span, 
while some acts consume minutes, others take hours, and some 
plans require years of endeavor. No discussion of acts can be 
adequate which takes no account of the past and the future as 
well as the present. Moreover, when an act has been consum- 
mated the condition or state of the actor is altered ineluctably. 
To have " lived through " a great experience is to be forever 
changed, and every reflective act leaves some permanent effect. 
Some deposit remains, not only in experience, but also in behavior. 
There results an attitude. An unpleasant experience may leave 
a man with a bias, or prejudice, which he never had before. An 
unexpectedly happy experience may completely alter his leaning 
or proclivity toward the object of his action. 

An action, therefore, has a duration, and when it has run its 
course and has been completed there are subsequent effects which 
are important to reckon with. But there are two ends to a line, 
two limits to the duration of an act. In addition to the residual 
effects succeeding the act there is an important consideration 
with respect to the antecedent conditions of the action. For, 
concerned as we are with the effect a given act has had, we are 
equally interested in what the future action is to be. Behavior 
is important, and what men do is vital; but we are also interested 
in what they are about to do, in what they can be induced to do. 
Hence the necessity, the vital necessity, of considering attitudes 
as tendencies of action. 

One writer expresses surprise that some regard attitudes as 
" desirable outcomes of education." It would seem incredible 
that anyone could know, even superficially, our public schools and 
doubt that attitudes are considered the desirable outcomes of 
education. Of course in the schools some attitudes are deliber- 
ately discouraged, but others are produced by long and patient 
effort. The teaching of history and of literature are primarily 
undertaken for the purpose of producing attitudes toward this 
nation and other nations, toward social and moral objects which 
the community approves. 


We are not only vitally interested in what men are going to do, 
but we are interested in producing predispositions and proclivities 
that will lead them to do what we desire. Hence we have schools, 
evangelists, newspapers, and organizations for the purpose of 
altering conditions and producing tendencies to certain types of 

Now there is no reason why a behaviorist should be interested 
in this subject, nor any reason why he should try to discover or 
understand attitudes. But the psychologist has always been 
interested in the whole of experience, and even if both behaviorist 
and psychologist should alike cease to be interested in the 
subject, it would only mean that others would arise to try to 
answer the pressing questions. The needs of men are imperative ; 
it is only a question which science or sciences will arise to meet the 
needs, to state the problems, analyze them, devise methods of 
investigation, and produce valuable and serviceable generaliza- 
tions and laws. 

As used in this article, an attitude is a tendency to act. The 
term designates a certain proclivity, or bent, a bias or predisposi- 
tion, an aptitude or inclination to a certain type of activity. As 
so used, an attitude cannot be an act, though it may be the 
beginning of an act. The word is sometimes used to designate 
the muscular set when the act is immanent, but it cannot be so 
limited. For as men use the word and as we deal with men there 
is need to speak of a man's attitude when there is no behavior 
immanent. Even in moments of " complacency " or calm or 
equilibrium referred to before we must be allowed to assume the 
existence of attitudes as tendencies, latent but real. One man 
I know well has very decided attitudes, and many of these 
attitudes I know so well that I could state them with every 
assurance of accuracy. He has decided attitudes toward pro- 
hibition, the tariff, the League of Nations, and Herbert Hoover. 
He has these attitudes and many more. He has them all now, 
though at the moment of this writing he is busily engaged in an 
activity remote from any of the objects named. Yet he does 
have these attitudes now, and they are tendencies of a very 
definite sort, and his future actions will result from these 
tendencies. 1 

1 The question of definition and the inconsistency in the use of the word 
"attitude" is a matter of concern to some scholars. This is more a question 


The nature of attitudes will be clearer if we consider them in 
relation to the objects and the emotionally toned objects which 
are appropriately called values. Here also there is evident some 
confusion, but the question is not really difficult. For the 
attitude is toward something to which the attitude is related. 
When equilibrium has been disturbed and a conscious and 
deliberate act results, one effect is the formation in experience of 
a new object, and the attitude or residue is the correlate of the 
object. At the party Romeo meets Juliet, and very shortly the 
girl becomes to him a beloved object, a value. We can speak 
of the attitude of Romeo toward the object, Juliet. They are 
correlative terms, arising simultaneously in experience. When 
the object changes, the attitude changes, pari passu. But it 
should not be difficult to distinguish my hatred from my enemy 
who is the object of the hatred. Until men become hopelessly 
unable to distinguish hunger from beefsteak there should be no 
difficulty in telling the difference between a value, or object, and 
an attitude. 

It must be observed, however, that objects belong to experi- 
ence. Psychology is not concerned with what the object is, 
but with what it is experienced as. For we live in a world of 
" cultural reality," and the whole furniture of earth and choir 
of heaven are to be described and discussed as they are conceived 
by men. Caviar is not a delicacy to the general. Cows are not 
food to the Hindu. Mohammed is not the prophet of God to 
me. To an atheist God is not God at all. Objects are not pas- 
sively received or automatically reacted to; rather is it true that 
objects are the result of a successful attempt to organize experi- 
ence, and the externalized aspect of the organization is the object, 
or value; the internal or subjective tendency toward it is the atti- 

of lexicography than of science. A word means what men mean by it, and 
most dictionaries patiently record all the uses of the words in the language. 
If one author is inconsistent, and most of them do slip, he should be held 
accountable for the fault, but scientific progress will not be made by mere 
voting about words. It is also a matter of common knowledge that other 
words are used instead of the word " attitude " to denote the same thing, 
e.g., tendency, predisposition, disposition, and habit. To the tyro this is 
confusing; but if we think denotatively, we cannot go far wrong. Even 
the word "attitude" could be abandoned and a meaningless symbol sub- 
stituted without loss. We could speak of the element X which is left as a 
residue of a former action and predisposes to a future act or type of acts. 


tude. Let it be said again, the name by which this aspect of 
human nature is referred to is absolutely irrelevant. The essen- 
tial point is that tendency, predisposition, organized inclination 
is centrally important, and that corresponding to this aspect 
of the experience of the person there is an externalized object 
of the tendency to which men give the name "object," or "value." 

Two other notions have been recently made the subject of 
debate, namely, wish and opinion. These are also important 
aspects of action, and each shall receive here a brief consideration. 

A desire is not characteristic of complacency. Some desires 
or wishes are so weak and unimportant that this fact may be 
obscured, but it is easy to show that when we wish we are in a 
certain condition of tension. We are incomplete. The hungry 
man wishes for his dinner. When he has dined his wish is goiie. 
His impulse is "satisfied"; it disappears. If one might risk a 
phrase, the wish could be defined as an impulse together with an 
image of the object of satisfaction. A wish is, therefore, one 
aspect or phase of an incomplete act. One convenient distinction 
between wishes and attitudes lies here. An attitude exists as a 
tendency, even when latent ; a wish is always more or less dynamic 
or kinetic. A man may be said to have an attitude toward coffee. 
If he be very fond of coffee he may come to wish for coffee on 
occasion. Having had three cups and enjoyed them all, he still 
has an attitude, the same attitude, toward the object, coffee; 
but he does not, let us hope, wish for any more. He may wish 
later. He has an attitude, but no wish. 

If the foregoing considerations be convincing, it follows that a 
wish is not the predisposition to an act but the actual part of an 
act. Some acts never get completed, but if wishes are sufficiently 
strong and do not mean action of too difficult a nature, it should 
be easy to regard wishes as essential phases of actions which go 
on to the end. If the wish is abandoned, then the act is left 
incomplete. Alas, many of our castles are only air! 

As to the relation of opinions and responses to questionnaires 
asking about attitudes, there is little that now needs to be said. 
We can, for the most part, rely on the verdict of the many 
students who hastily endeavored to investigate attitudes by this 
short and easy and futile method. It would seem evident that 
a response to a questionnaire is itself an act. If the statement 
concerns some object, the attitude toward the object can be 


assumed to exist. But when one talks or writes he usually talks 
or writes to someone, and the object of the action in that case is 
often the questioner, and not the subject which the questioner 
wishes to be informed about. The sad experience of Bain and 
others with questions and answers about attitudes might be 
interpreted as due to the failure to take into account the fact 
that in a questionnaire there are four factors instead of only 
three. The fourth factor being so important and being wholly 
neglected in the calculations, the results proved relatively 
valueless. But even if the fourth factor, the questioner, be 
eliminated, there is no warrant that the three factors remaining 
would be in a one-to-one correspondence. There is every reason 
to say that they would not so correspond. The attitude exists, 
and the object of the attitude is its correlate; but the reason, 
the opinion, the rationalization, this is much more variable, and 
it is necessary to devise more careful methods if we are to learn 
what attitudes are and how they are to be discovered. 1 

The method of studying attitudes cannot be discussed within 
the limits of this chapter. Thurstone has made a suggestive 
attempt to apply a refined statistical method to the problem. 2 
It is clearly more difficult than was at first assumed to construct 
a scale which will measure the attitudes of either a group or an 
individual, though the former seems the easier task. The general 
principle adopted by Thurstone appears to be the consistency of 
the responses to a series of questions in comparison with the 
expressions of groups whose attitudes are known from sources 
other than their replies. 

The specialist in this field will recall the work of such men as 
Williams 3 who have revealed the usefulness and even the necessity 
of asserting the existence of unconscious attitudes. John Dewey, 
in a brilliant discussion, has shown the necessity for assuming 
attitudes of which the actor need not be conscious in order to 
interpret behavior that is inconsistent. 4 Thus it appears that 

1 See PARETO, Traite de Sociologie (Paris, 1919), for an extended discussion 
of the three elements, residues, derivations, and derivees. 

2 See THURSTONE, "Attitudes Can Be Measured," The American Journal 
of Sociology, XXXIII (January, 1928), 529-554. 

3 See WILLIAMS, J. M., Foundations of Social Science, New York, 1920. 
chap. xiv. 

4 New Republic, November, 1927. 


the notion of attitudes as tendencies to act is forced upon the 
investigator, not only in predicting what will be done, but in 
interpreting the behavior of the actor in the past. 

The insistence on the importance of the subjective aspect of 
personality need not be the occasion of any lessened interest in 
the central importance of action and behavior. It only means 
that behavior is not always patent and overt. Sometimes the 
river runs underground and its waters flow along a channel never 
seen by human eye and in a bed never sounded by any plummet. 
But it is there, and whatever methods can be devised to learn of 
it must be employed. The only unpardonable scientific sin 
would be to deny that there is any stream underground. 

Thus qualified in meaning, the term " behavior" might be of 
the highest worth. For a man's personality and his character 
mean actions, since what my friend means to me is what he will 
do to me and for me, including what he has done. But the inner 
life of my friend is an integral part of his action, and it is 
necessary to assert the reality of the subjective experience, 
not as contrasted with movement, but as a connected phase 
of it. 

What is needed is, not the denial of the difficult, but hard think- 
ing and hard labor in the effort to devise means to wrest the 
secrets of nature from her in the realm of personality as men in 
natural science have done in their field. We need to investigate 
the genetic history of individual attitudes and tp learn how they 
acquire their quality and their strength. We need to know the 
difference between the individual attitudes and collective, or 
mass, attitudes, for there does seem to be some essential difference. 
How attitudes are modified and how broken up is a problem, or 
rather a general class of problems on which much effort is at 
present being expended; but more workers are needed in this 
vineyard. There is also the problem of measurement and 
prediction. Again, there is the problem of the relation between 
the native and unmodifiable and the social and acquired. On 
this last rest such important political issues as, for example, a 
national immigration policy. 

But this is not the place to present a list of research projects 
in the study of attitudes. The attempt has been to show that 
the notion of attitude is not only important, but essential. 
Some other word may prove more convenient in later usage, and 


some more desirable uniformities may and should be observed 
in the effort to communicate our thoughts to each other. But the 
important consideration is that the invisible and subjective 
experiences of men are integral and inseparable parts of their 
objective movements. To neglect the study of attitudes will be 
to fail to understand personality. 


When the men of my generation began the study of psychology 
they did not know how lucky they were. For, in the years 
immediately following publication of James's Principles, 1 psy- 
chology was psychology, and it was possible not only to learn 
it but to refer to the "teachings of psychology " on this and that. 
There were, indeed, two schools in the early part of this century 
but they differed little and their proponents not only got along 
well, but spoke practically the same language. They were 
known as the structuralists, likened to anatomists, and the 
functionalists, likened to physiologists. It was easy in those 
irenic days to interpret each one as really supplementing the 
other. There was no trouble on the horizon when AngelPs 
Psychology* appeared, and in the laboratory in Chicago and else- 
where Titchener's manual 3 and Angell's text were carried in the 
same brief case and accepted by the same students. 

Just when the trouble all began it is not possible to say, nor 
important to date. Ross 4 wrote a book on social psychology in 
which he translated some of the engaging ideas from the French 
sociologists. McDougall's Social Psychology 5 represented little 
more than an attempt to be consistent in giving instincts the 
first place in the explanatory scheme of human nature. But it 
was around 1911 and 1912 that things really began to happen. 
The second decade of the century witnessed all kinds of ferment. 
Not only did it see the rise of the mental tests, the whole concept 
of mental measurement, but it was the period in which were 
brought to our attention the two major rebellions in the psy- 
chological field: psychoanalysis, the creation of European 

1 JAMES, WILLIAM, Principles of Psychology, New York, 1890. 
1 ANGELL, JAMES R., Psychology, New York, 1904. 
'TiTCHENER, E. B., A Text-book of Psychology, New York, 1909. 
4 Ross, E. A., Social Psychology, New York, 1908. 
6 McDouGALL, WILLIAM, Social Psychology, Boston, 1912. 



physicians, and behaviorism, under the leadership of the enfant 

It was in this decade also that the gestalt psychology came into 
existence in Germany, though it did not become known in America 
so promptly as the others. The gestalt people had a poor press 
agent though they later became more active. While most of 
these systems do not claim to be social psychology, and while 
some of them distinctly repudiate any such implication, yet they 
are all influencing social psychology and must be taken into 
account if we are to understand the present condition. If we 
were to try to catalogue the different forms of statements or 
schools at present existing in America, we could distinguish easily 
several more or less distinct points of view. 

First and oldest in America is the imitation school, originating 
in France and widely popularized by Ross. This is by no means 
so influential as it used to be, since the authors themselves 
have come to modify their position. Most influential of all 
probably is the instinct school of social psychology, represented 
by McDougall, whose coming to America helped to strengthen 
the popularity of his point of view. At one period this school 
was almost predominant, but within the last seven years it has 
been somewhat on the defensive. The psychoanalytic movement 
has had much to do with social psychology, and Adler would be 
quite willing to call his individual psychology "social psychology/ 1 
paradoxical as it sounds. It is really not paradoxical, for social 
psychology, as most men use it, is a study of the social influences 
on the personality: in the words of the Psychological Index , the 
" Social Functions of the Individual/' 

The most aggressive and militant group is, of course, the 
behaviorist. The founders of the behaviorist school repudiate 
the notion of social, but writers like Allport 1 and Bernard 2 have 
attempted to make a behavioristic integration and harmony 
in applying the concept to the problems of social psychology. 

There remains to be noted the general point of view, less 
militantly fought for and promoted with less of partisanship and 
therefore perhaps less sharply defined, which is the result of the 
work of the Chicago group and their allies in New York, Michigan, 
and points west. It is an interesting fact that the social psy- 

1 ALLPORT, F. H., Social Psychology, Cambridge, 1924. 

8 BERNARD, L. L., Introduction to Social Psychology, New York, 1926. 


chology of Wundt 1 has had very little influence in America and 
at present receives scarcely any mention. 

If we inquire more specifically into the course of development of 
the various "schools," it should be pointed out that orthodox 
imitationism produced a fiery controversy in France, Durkheim 2 
objecting strenuously to Tarde's 3 formulation, and arriving at the 
notion of representations collectives, or group ideas, social con- 
cepts, which members of a group receive from the collectivity. 
The effect of this process, the resultant social phenomenon, is 
often indistinguishable from imitation, but the mechanism 
by means of which it is brought about proves to be more compli- 
cated than was assumed in the earlier formulation. The importa- 
tion of imitationism into America by Ross, already referred to, 
was even more vulnerable. Ross unfortunately identified 
imitation with the process of suggestion and it became increas- 
ingly difficult to accept this. Suggestion occurs in many places 
in our social life, but the result of the operation of suggestion 
is more often than not a response which no refinement of inter- 
pretation can identify with imitation. Moreover, the phe- 
nomenon of conscious choice or deliberate copying, which also 
results in imitation, is frequently the terminal member of a 
series of activities and experiences for which the only acceptable 
term would be deliberation or reasoning, and this means that 
suggestion is even more remotely in evidence. In addition to 
these two objections it became necessary to discuss a third diffi- 
culty. The slow, unconscious influence due to the histrionic 
self-stimulation or dramatic rehearsal of emotional experiences 
produces a gradual and unwitting type of modification, sometimes 
identified with imitation, and again utterly unlike any known 
form of suggestion. In America, Baldwin 4 made the concept of 
imitation prominent, but the work of Cooley in his observations 
on children and in his analysis of the process gradually deflected 
attention from the over-simplified conclusions of the imitation 
school. Imitation did not produce a large controversial litera- 
ture; attention gradually shifted, and social psychologists found 
themselves concerned with other issues. 

1 WUNDT, WILHELM, Volker Psychologic. 

2 DURKHEIM, EMILE, Lea Rbgles de la Mtthode Sociologique, Paris, Alcan, 

3 TARDE, GABRIEL, Les Lois d' Imitation. 

4 BALDWIN, JAMES MARK, Mental Development in the Child and the Race. 


I do not remember to have read any account of the thorough- 
going abandoning of the doctrine of associationism which has 
taken place in the last twenty years. It is really a very interest- 
ing phenomenon. In the system of William James, in Angelas 
Psychology, and in all the orthodox texts and handbooks of twenty 
years ago there were presented to the reader two utterly incom- 
patible notions. The first was the doctrine of sensations and 
perceptions received through the sense organs and developing 
into concepts, judgments, and reasoned propositions, with little 
essential difference from the formulations of Locke himself. 
The second was the theory of instincts, utterly different in origin, 
since they were assumed to arise from within and were related to 
ideas and reasoning not as disturbing factors, but as the ultimate 
mainspring of conduct and of reasoning itself. The situation 
was logically impossible. It was inevitable that the inconsistency 
should be discovered, for one cannot, indeed, logically hold that 
ideas enter the mind from without through the reception of sensa- 
tions and at the same time insist that reasoning occurs in the 
service of an instinct. Sooner or later one of these had to go; 
and, as everyone knows, it was associationism which was crowded 
out of the picture. 

Here we have the significance of McDougallism. The instincts 
had been listed and discussed long before he wrote, but the wide 
popularity and influence of McDougalPs formulation seems to 
be accounted for in large measure by the fact that he clearly 
relegated rationality to a subordinate relation. The drives of 
human life were no longer rational ideas but non-rational instincts 
inherited from the prehistoric animal world and bred in by 
a thousand generations of primitive men. 

It is interesting to note that this transition was made with 
surprising ease. One looks in vain for controversial literature 
defending associationism. As late as 1921, Warren 1 wrote a 
history of associationism but it amounts almost to an obituary 
notice. The pragmatic or instrumentalist philosophy had pre- 
pared the way. 

Quite a different story is to be told regarding instinctivism. 
As a generally accepted doctrine it occupied the stage for a rela- 
tively brief period, being uncritically accepted for little more 

1 WABREN, H. C., History of Association Psychology, New York, 1921. 


than thirty years. The controversy arose as a result of the 
dissatisfaction of those who were trying to make use of it. There 
was first of all the difficulty in describing the list of instincts, 
which led inevitably to an increased recognition that many 
supposed instincts were really due to social customs which had 
in the individual become " second nature. 7 ' Later on there 
emerged the conviction that instincts could never be a matter 
of observation since, whatever their original nature might have 
been, they were always overlaid with acquired and customary 
influences. This gradually caused the critics of McDougall to 
defend the position that the inherited tendencies of the human 
being are, though very numerous, fractional and minute in 

Professor McDougall has defended his doctrine with character- 
istic vigor but has not always understood his critics. To him the 
alternative of instinctivism is a return to intellectualism and 
Lockean associationism. It is difficult to see how he could so 
misinterpret those who oppose him. There has been no tendency 
to deny the importance of inherited movements. On the con- 
trary, it is everywhere assumed that the original tendencies are 
non-rational and motor. The real issue is as to whether the 
actions which are organized into instinctive patterns are in any 
sense inherited. Fighting, flight, maternal care, and display of 
oneself, all arise from vague tendencies, but their specific form, 
even their very appearance, is the result of an organization which 
takes place within a given cultural medium. 

The instinct controversy is a matter of the last seven or eight 
years and the subject is at present under discussion, with a number 
of foremost authors still defending the conception as having 
value, but with an increasing tendency on the part of most writers 
to be apologetic and tentative in their use of the term. The 
traditional psychologists seem to favor it, and the notion finds 
place in the writings of the gestalt group, with a certain deference 
paid to it by the psychoanalytic school. On the other hand, the 
behaviorists tend to discard the notion, many sociologists have 
given it up, and John Dewey 1 in his social psychology wrote a 
chapter which he headed "No Separate Instincts." A recon- 

1 DEWEY, JOHN, Human Nature and Conduct, Part II, Sec. 6, New York, 


ciling formula is still in the future, but it seems accurate to say 
that the concept of instinct plays little or no part in any present 
researches. It belongs to the realm of " explanation/' 

The behavioristic movement has strongly influenced American 
writers in social psychology. Allport and Bernard are quite 
explicit in their allegiance to the general point of view, and even 
those who have reacted unfavorably have been compelled to 
reckon with it. The history of the rise of behaviorism roots 
in two movements, the brilliant work in animal psychology and 
the controversy regarding imageless thought which began some 
eighteen or twenty years ago. The first of these showed the 
possibility of a method of purely objective observation and record 
of observable movements under controlled conditions, and the 
second led to widespread skepticism concerning the reliability 
of the hitherto unchallenged method of introspection. To these 
two we may add the Russian discoveries of the conditioned 
reflex which led to the publication of a psychology by Bechterew 1 
which he preferred to call in a subtitle "Refiexology." The 
controversies arising as a result of the vigorous advocacy of 
behaviorism are still current, and there is a tendency on the part 
of many American authors to treat as "behavioristic" the whole 
problem of personality. As a result there are several kinds of 
" behaviorism/' the extreme type and a series of more or less well- 
organized systems in which imagination, ideas, and subjective 
phenomena are recognized and studied, but with reference to 
their function in behavior. 

The relation of J. B. Watson's 2 system to the instinct psy- 
chology, out of which it in part arose, is roughly analogous to the 
relation between Lockean associationism and the preceding 
system of innate ideas which we connect with the name of 
Descartes. Behaviorism, with its central doctrine of a reflex 
which can be " conditioned," is a sort of physiological associa- 
tionism, and it is interesting to note that Watson has actually 
asserted the same possibility of absolute control over the indi- 
vidual children in almost the same language that was used in the 
mid-nineteenth century by the disciples of Bentham and Mill. 

1 BECHTEREW, W., Objektive Psychologic, German Translation, Leipzig and 
Berlin, 1913. 

2 WATSON, J. B., Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist, Phila- 
delphia, 1919. 


These latter were quite sure that on the blank tablet of the mind, 
ideas could be written which would make of the material at hand 
any types of personality desired. Watson is equally certain that 
with the uniform and identical stock of inherited reflexes a 
"wise conditioning" would produce any desired personality type. 
He agrees to take a hundred children and make them into 
musicians, artists, or what you will, as a result of properly 
conditioning their behavior. 

The exigencies of controversy have forced an interesting exten- 
sion of the conditioned reflex, which has amounted almost to 
repudiation of it. Curiously enough, this has received little 
attention, yet it seems to be a very vulnerable point. A condi- 
tioned reflex is a movement which remains unmodified, the 
" conditioning " consists in producing this movement by simul- 
taneous association with the stimulus of another and irrelevant 
one. If the reflex is modified or changed the problem of the 
modification should receive attention. In a "behavioristic" 
system this is passed over. A " reflex " or " response " is often 
said to be " conditioned " when it is really modified or changed, 
that is, when it disappears. A child who learns to repeat what 
his nurse says to him is said to be conditioned. It is as if Pavlow, 
in reporting his experiments, would have recorded that the dog 
secreted saliva in response to a musical note associated with the 
original stimulus, and then had proceeded to record that in course 
of time the dog would come to play the violin. 

The psychoanalytic school of psychology is interesting for 
several reasons. It is in the first place extra-academic. At 
present there are very few of these men in academic positions, 
here or in Europe, and no recognition was given them in the 
programs of the Psychological Association until a few years ago. 
Nevertheless, they have attracted world-wide attention. 

One of the most interesting aspects of this movement is its 
utter independence of physiology. That such a system, so 
founded, should have influenced academic psychologists may 
perhaps be partly due to the gradual dissatisfaction with the 
earlier alliance with physiology. At any rate, the psychoanalysts 
have no physiological assumption. There is not a neuron in 
Freud. The whole system is built upon the experiences of the 
person and is concerned with wishes, images, anxieties, fears, 
and dreams. It is a sort of antithesis and counterpart to 


behaviorism. No more striking symptom of the confusion and 
ferment of our time is to be found than the simultaneous allegiance 
which some writers actually profess to Watson and Freud. 
Perhaps some Elijah will appear before the multitude ere long 
with the cry, " Choose this day whom ye will serve. " But a 
consistent system and a resolution of contradictions require time 
and perhaps until now the time has been insufficient. 

The gestalt psychology slowly matured from about 1912 for 
a period of ten years before it attracted very much attention in 
America. This was due in part to the isolation caused by the 
World War. It may be that the relative lack of influence so 
far results from the difficulty of taking over so thoroughgoing a 
system and incorporating it into existing systems which are older. 
It seems too early to predict how much of the insight of this school 
will be found useful at least, I find it difficult to speak with 

The general point of view represented by Cooley, Dewey, 
Mead, Thomas, Park, and their colleagues differs essentially 
from the preceding formulations in the emphasis on the social 
group, or matrix, in which the personality takes shape, and in 
the emphasis on the social nature of individual personality. 
When Thomas speaks of "social attitudes/' he refers to the 
attitudes of individuals which are the result of social influencing. 
Dewey wrote: "Institutions cause the instincts." Cooley 1 has 
written convincingly concerning society and the individual as 
different aspects or phases of the seamless fabric of human life. 
Personality appears from this point of view as the subjective 
aspect of culture. Social psychology so considered draws 
heavily on anthropology and finds itself closely related to 
sociology. This explains why so many sociologists have been 
interested in the subject of social psychology. 

The foregoing systems or "schools" do not exhaust the list, 
but sufficient has been said to justify the statement made 
earlier in this chapter that we are at present in a state of relative 
disorganization. At least the student coming into the subject 
of social psychology must listen to conflicting and contradictory 
views to an extent unparalleled in our earlier history. If the past 
can teach us anything of the future, it will be safe to prophesy 
that a few years from now either we or our successors will be 

1 COOLBY, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, New York, 1922. 


able to formulate an integrated statement with the hope that 
insights will be clearer and generalizations more valuable. 

The distinguishing characteristic of the present situation in 
social psychology is at once the result of the present confusion 
and rivalry of systems and at the same time the promise of 
betterment. I refer to the enthusiasm for research and the 
widespread attempts to carry on first-hand factual investiga- 
tions. Much that passes under the name of research is, of 
course, hardly worthy of the dignity, but when liberal discount is 
made there is much gold in the dross. And just as warring 
theologians find themselves able to cooperate in enterprises of 
practical religion and service, so the partisans of the various 
systems and schools have very little temptation to object to 
actual investigations made by their rivals. And, of course, as 
time goes on the accumulation of data will require new attempts 
at synthesis and integration, for the new wine is best poured into 
the new wineskins. 

The complete catalogue of investigations now in progress in 
what may accurately be called the field of social psychology runs 
into hundreds of titles, obviously of varying importance. Many 
of these are studies of individual persons. From the behavior 
clinics is coming a wealth of carefully gathered material con- 
cerning boys and girls whose conduct has deviated slightly from 
accepted norms, while studies of actual delinquents, of criminals, 
of the mentally abnormal, and of the insane are piling up data 
which will ultimately be assayed and will inevitably add to what 
we know. There are also being accumulated guided auto- 
biographies, "life histories," of normal people, most of them hav- 
ing to do with specific crucial moments and all potentially 
valuable as confirmatory or contradictory evidence. We shall 
shortly be in a position to state with much more confidence than 
ever before the results of attempts to analyze human nature into 
the elements, wishes, desires, and attitudes, which seem to point 
to the necessity of abandoning permanently the older atomistic 
individualism. No individual wish nor any individual attitude 
seems to have arisen without relation to the environing culture in 
which the life was lived. 

On the other end of the logical series lies the problem of types 
of personality, the end results of the life organization of the 
individual. The morphologist, the physiologist, and the psy- 


chiatrist are all being called upon to contribute to this, while 
every organized and dynamic group is also assumed to be 
capable of contributing to the answer to this central problem in 
social psychology. And here again the trend seems to be in the 
direction of an increasing emphasis upon the function of the whole 
in determining the type of the one. 

Not only in the study of individuals are research workers 
busily engaged in collecting facts, but collectivities are yielding 
their due share of data. Groups, gangs, families, communities, 
and institutions are being studied with reference to particular 
concrete problems. Social pathology, including chiefly crime and 
delinquency, but not confined to these phenomena, occasion 
studies often looking to the solution of concrete problems but 
pregnant with the possibility of theoretical generalizations of 
major importance. Besides these, specific group problems, such 
as the attitudes of a group, studies in public opinion, and related 
inquiries, give promise of yielding a wealth of needed information. 

It was remarked in the beginning that the present chorus of 
competing and conflicting voices which confront the student who 
attempts to master current social psychology is unprecedented 
in its variety and in its contradictory nature. It was further 
shown that this condition is comparatively recent and the opinion 
is here repeated that it will probably not endure for long. One 
reason for saying this has just been presented. The new facts 
will, of necessity, compel new formulations, but there is another 
consideration. The leader of a school very rarely has been 
known to yield to his opponents or rivals. Their concepts and 
phrases assume the character of slogans and shibboleths. If 
these leaders were immortal, perhaps the condition we now are 
in would be permanent ; but their tenure is finite and, though few 
die and none resign, yet eventually all are retired. Students and 
successors will inherit their tasks and, in the nature of things, 
they will be more syncretic, more objective, and their formulations 
will prove more useful, which is perhaps what we mean by saying, 
more true. 

This discussion has been concerned with the direction in which 
current scholarship has been trending. The part played in this 
development by the members of the Department of Philosophy 
at the University of Chicago has been entire worthy of the tradi- 
tions of our group. Professor Tufts has emphasized throughout 


his teaching career the social influences in the development of 
personality. The chapters which he wrote in the Dewey and 
Tufts Ethics 1 not only revealed a thorough mastery of sociological 
and economic writings, but served to define for the younger men 
of that day the problem of the relation of the mores to the moral 
life of the individual. 

In the lectures and writings of Professor Moore the stress has 
been placed (at least this was true when the writer was a student) 
on the analysis of the thought process, and later students of social 
psychology have derived much inspiration and received much 
clarification from his formulation of instrumentalism. The 
relation of conflict to reasoning makes essential the discussion or 
association with others and leads inevitably to a repudiation 
of the older atomistic individualism. Indeed, the accusation of 
solipsism which was heard in the early days of the pragmatic 
controversy was utterly unfounded, chiefly for the reason that 
individual mind is essentially social in its constitution. 

Professor Ames repeatedly acknowledged his obligation to the 
social point of view and made a notable contribution in his 
Psychology of Religious Experience. 2 The analysis set forth of the 
essentially social character of the individual's religious experience 
added a strong tower to the structure of the temple. When 
religion is defined as the consciousness of the highest social values 
there is made possible a method of study of religious experience 
through social psychology which was previously not available. 

In the case of the present writer, the greatest obligation is 
felt to Professor Mead, 3 to whom American scholars are indebted 
for some invaluable and wholly unique contributions. Nowhere 
can be found a comparable analysis of the psychology of meaning, 
the nature of symbolism, and the distinction between the signifi- 
cant symbol which makes human experience possible and the 
inferior development which accounts for the limitations of the 
lower animals. Mead's doctrine of the histrionic tendency which 

1 New York, 1908. 

2 Boston, 1909. See also by same author, Religion, New York, 1928. 

8 MEAD, G. H., "The Social Self," Journal of Philosophy, X (1913), 374- 
380. "The Behavioristic Account of the Significant Symbol," Journal of 
Philosophy, XIX (1922), 157-163; "The Genesis of the Self and Social 
Control/' International Journal of Ethics, XXXV (1925), 251-277. Mind, 
Self and Society, Chicago, 1934; Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth 
Century, Chicago, 1936. 


runs through all normal human imaginative experiences, very 
happily designated as the tendency to " take the role of the other/' 
has, in the opinion of the writer, been one of the major contribu- 
tions in this generation to our knowledge of how the personality 
develops and the consciousness of self arises. Mead has set forth 
the process by means of which the spontaneous and meaningless 
gesture is defined by the responses of the other, so that, while 
our ideas are our own and the symbol is private, yet the soul of 
the symbol is its meaning, and the meaning is the contribution 
of others. 


Social psychology has mainly borderline trends because social 
psychology is itself a borderline area. As in a good doughnut, 
there is more in the circumference than in the center. Indeed, 
it is doubtful whether there would ever have been any social 
psychology at all or any courses in this field or any researches in 
this area, had there not existed a borderline field in which tradi- 
tional psychology was not interested and yet which was believed 
to contain resources that sociologists needed in their work. Not 
that experimental psychology is or was barren or unfruitful. An 
admirable technique was developed, rigorously scientific in 
method, unequivocally mathematical in procedure, but con- 
cerned with problems that were increasingly small in extent and 
more and more remote from the needs and interests of those who 
were forced to consider the motives of men and to whom the 
adjustments and the harmonious development of human life 
seemed all-important. 

Only on similar grounds can the rise of psychoanalysis be 
explained. Since traditional psychology had neither interests 
nor methods that were available to the study of personality dis- 
turbance, the physicians who were treating hysteria and kindred 
disorders developed a system which broke completely with 
the physiological psychology of the day. Just as Christian 
Science rose and still thrives on the mistakes of medical 
science, so psychoanalysis found its opportunity in the con- 
fessed incompetence in respect of problems for which there 
was no place in the program of the psychologists of twenty-five 
years ago. 

And in the same way, the sociologist, in seeking a foundation in 
theory for the study of the family, crime, delinquency, suicide, 
public opinion, and related problems, began his work, not in 
rebellion or in impatience, but from necessity. However, it was 
a borderline field from the beginning. The sociologist in building 



his structure needed certain basic foundations, and just as a 
manufacturer who cannot get his order filled sets to work to 
make his accessories in his own factory, so the social psychologist 
arose to try to meet a need which might conceivably have been 
supplied by existing disciplines. 

Social psychology was a borderline concept even before this, 
when in Germany the formulation of a German folk soul led 
to the earlier efforts to state the psychic trends underlying the 
origin and development of art, morals, religion, and the political 
forms of European society. We in America know this best from 
the work of Wundt, whose folk psychology is the effort to fill 
the gap left by the obsolescence of the philosophy of history. 
But of all the borderline influences, this one is, at the present time, 
least influential. 

Another European conception deserves a prominent place in 
the briefest sort of historic report. It rose in the reactionary 
period in France when opposition to democracy, never lacking 
under any organization of the state, developed a pseudo-scientific 
rationalization. It is from this humble, if not ignoble, ancestry 
that our collective psychology has largely been derived, with its 
mob psychology, its study of crowds and related phenomena. 
Here, too, is a borderline, and the work of the past generation has 
not been unsuccessful in clarifying the problems and in formulat- 
ing generalizations. 

In France and in England social psychology was at first con- 
sidered as collective psychology, a study of the mental planes and 
currents, in the language of our Professor Ross whose vigorous 
and lively metaphors have delighted our students for twenty 
years and more. So conceived, social psychology is still investi- 
gated and cultivated, but the present trend is to make that chap- 
ter of the statement and outgrowth and corollary of the earlier 
work, which sets forth the psychology of the individual person 
considered as the resultant of social forces. Social psychology 
is individual psychology if the individual be conceived as the 
center of multipersonal influences. 

As an attempt to understand how the immature member of a 
society becomes a developed person with his own individuality 
and his own character, the social psychology of the past twenty- 
five years has remained on the borderline, an interstitial area, 
marching with sociology, with psychology, learning from psychia- 


try, and importing heavily from the output of ethnology. Per- 
haps a more accurate figure would be this: each of these needed 
or seemed to need a social psychology and each of them proceeded 
to make his own, though, fortunately, they did have diplomatic 
relations, and ideas and even methods flowed freely across the 

It may have been inevitable that the investigation of per- 
sonality which we call social psychology should start with a 
disastrous inheritance from the earlier individualism. At any 
rate, history must record that it was so. Perhaps it was the 
analogy of chemistry, with its marvelous success in discovering 
the ineradicable elements of matter, that had most to do with 
leading us into the long and fruitless effort to find the irreducible 
elements of personality. At first these were thought to be ideas, 
and at the very first these seemed to be innate ideas, latent and 
concealed, but, under the developing influence of contacts, ready 
to develop into the accepted axioms of mathematics and the 
precious articles of the theological creeds. These went the way 
of all flesh but only when succeeded by another list, contributed 
by the tiger and the ape, those most recently acknowledged 
kindred of the children of Adam. Only for about thirty years 
did the instinct doctrine remain unchallenged. Just as it had 
become universally accepted, the inadequacy of its formulation 
began to dawn upon many, and the last ten years have changed 
the whole conception of the stability of the inherited motor habits 
and the value of attempting to form a list of them. 

The instinct controversy has been our most interesting little 
internecine strife within the period under review, which, indeed, 
is the whole short life of social psychology as a definite field. 
There was a small list of gilt-edged instincts with an unques- 
tioned reputation for solvency, and for a time it seemed that 
their prestige was unshakable. Some of the young men began 
to utter heretical words, but it was not till Professor Bernard 
entered the market that disaster overtook the issue. There is a 
rumor that he gathered them through a number of graduate 
student brokers, but at any rate when he unloaded 5,684 separate 
instincts upon a nervous market, the slump began in earnest, and 
present quotations make one think of German marks. Those 
who still retain them use them as token money, for they have 
lost their intrinsic value. 


Nor was the earlier effort to accomplish the same result by 
surcharge or overprinting any more successful. To call them 
something else and have them perform the same function was a 
natural recourse in a field where disputes about words are endemic 
and science is so largely the opinions of professors. But to say 
that warfare is due to the instinct of pugnacity differs in no 
essential way from assigning it to the prepotent reflex of strug- 
gling. Not the connotation of a term was at stake but the 
denotation of a fact. There are some troubles that do not yield 
to etymology. Sleeping sickness is as serious as encephalitis 
lethargica. Epsom salts has the same effect as sulphate of 
magnesia. The real question was not the name of the inherited 
behavior but the question of its existence. 

Equally short-lived and equally unsuccessful were the sugges- 
tions which substituted wishes or desires in a definite list. The 
discussion has not reached an end and there is no warrant for 
asserting unanimity, but the trend seems clearly in the direction 
of complete emancipation from the necessity of discovering or 
even the possibility of admitting any essential and definite 
elementary constituents in the developing individual. And this 
would have consequences of importance for sociology, for social 
psychology, and for practice. For it would place the social 
group in a new perspective and enable us to find in the mores and 
institutions of a time and area those elements which were formerly 
asserted to exist in the psychophysical organism. 

This trend is not only in accord with, but is in no small degree 
the result of, the fact that social psychology is also marginal to 
ethnology, from which field have come conceptions that have been 
invaluable clarifying influences. For the ethnologist in this 
period has come to regard culture as a datum and has, if I inter- 
pret him aright, written his declaration of independence from any 
a priori individualistic psychology. Like little dog Dingo, he had 
to. For there was no way of accounting for the strikingly differ- 
ent cultures save by some impossibly absurd hypothesis of a 
differential instinctive equipment of different tribes which, 
indeed, McDougall in a moment of consistency was moved to do. 
But as this would destroy the unity of the human race, it did not 
commend itself to the students of preliterate culture. 

If institutions create the instincts, and not vice versa, whence 
the institutions? And ethnology is at present answering it in 


a phrase suggested by that of the biologists after Pasteur: 
Grams cultura ex cultura. And if this phrase be understood and 
its meaning and implications fully grasped the result is not only 
a new Magna Carta for social psychology, but a newer and more 
intimate dependence at the same time on sociology. For we are 
at home in studying groups, the folk and the mores are household 
words with us, and it is not difficult to assimilate to our language 
the notion that culture precedes and produces the individ- 
ual. Aristotle again says to us: The whole comes before the 

Social psychology as the science of personality has another 
marginal connection that with child study. And in the nursery 
schools and institutes that have been set up at Iowa City, at 
Minneapolis, at Detroit, New Haven, and elsewhere there have 
come not only a new impulse and a set of conceptions, but the 
promise of a new method comparable to the influence of animal 
psychology in its earlier effects. For the study of nursery-school 
children, especially in groups, can be and is increasingly becoming 
more objective, with engaging possibilities. It is inevitable that 
the study of such children shall be made with a constant emphasis 
on the group in which the child moves and the interaction of the 

As to psychiatry, there is scarcely any distinction in the 
methods and point of view of some of the investigators in this 
field and those who class themselves as social psychologists. The 
differentiation is, of course, in the pathological conditions which 
the psychiatrist, of necessity, makes central in his work. Yet 
even this is less true than formerly, owing to the increasing treat- 
ment of near-normals in clinics. Alfred Adler after a lecture 
on individual psychology once remarked to this writer that his 
own interest was obviously in social psychology. The indebted- 
ness of social psychology to psychiatry is evidenced by the fact 
that many of the concepts which we use have been frankly and 
openly borrowed from our colleagues in that field. 

I might mention, finally, the recent contribution in method 
which may be said to come from the almost obsolete field of 
psychophysics. Thurstone, taking the familiar notion of least 
perceptual differences, has stimulated much interest by producing 
measuring scales of attitudes by means of an elaborate and care- 
ful graduation of statements which, when arranged in a series, 


give an indication of the attitudes of the members of a group on 
any given subject. 

If this list were to be made inclusive, it would be necessary to 
speak at some length of economics and to mention work on 
economic motives and on labor attitudes and similar studies 
which have appeared in a satisfying quantity and make the rela- 
tion of marginality quite clear. 

Nor may we fail to mention political science, where studies of 
public opinion, the interest in leadership, and the necessity of 
accounting for the peculiar idiosyncrasies of prominent men, 
from mayors to presidents and kings, have led to studies which 
impinge very definitely on this field and indicate the value and 
necessity of extensive and hearty cooperation. 

There is, indeed, no department of social science, from history 
and human geography to education and religion, that cannot 
draw inspiration and assistance from social psychology and in 
return make a valued contribution of fact and method and fruitful 

He who has personality for his central interest will not lack for 
stimulating academic and other scientific contacts. So numerous 
are the contacts that there is required much circumspection for 
the accurate delimitation of the field. Concentration on an 
unappropriated problem is not as easy as it was. Whether a 
special field of social psychology will be increasingly independent 
or whether the workers outside will become so fruitful that 
sociologist, economist, political scientist, and psychiatrist, among 
others, will be doing all the work is a question on which it would 
be unwise to make a dogmatic pronouncement. Since most of 
these problems are marginal, it is not unthinkable that the various 
frontiers will be gradually annexed. Should that day come, the 
social psychologist would be a victim of technological unemploy- 
ment. But should it so happen, it will not be soon. Such a 
day is surely remote. And meanwhile, we cultivate our garden. 


The history of reflective thinking on the subject of personality 
records a series of unsuccessful efforts to designate the elements 
into which it can be resolved. That mind and personality are 
complex is obvious, and that the ultimate and simple constituents 
may be discovered has long been assumed. A survey of some of 
the most influential of them should prove profitable to the 
student of social psychology and should aid in placing our cur- 
rent views in a certain perspective. 

Two observations seem justified from an examination of the 
story. One is that formulations have been repeatedly rejected, 
not by those who found them unacceptable at the outset, but by 
those who accepted them and later found them wanting. It 
seems impossible for the author of a theory ever to give it- up, 
for the idols of the cave will not be denied their worship. Bacon 
exhorts us to be suspicious of any conclusion concerning which 
we find ourselves enthusiastic, but as in the case of Ephraim 
joined to his idols, the only ear turned is the deaf ear. 

It is not rare, however, for the disciples of a master to revise 
his teaching. If the product is overadvertised and fails to do 
what has been claimed for it, some young man will begin to tinker. 
Then he, in turn, presents a new finality to the world. 

For our academic forefathers down to our own generation did 
aim high. Each one knew that his predecessors erred, but he 
fondly hoped to say the really final word. Yet each "final" 
word, once new and shining like a coin from the mint, becomes 
tarnished and of little worth. Antique thoughts do not rise in 
value like period furniture; at the most they are like fossils in a 
museum, revealing the past experiments of nature. 

Is it admissible to boast that we live in a generation of scholars 
who make no pretention to finality? There are surely some who 
rejoice at the thought that our successors will change our doc- 
trines, and some are pleased with the prospect that our work will 



be made out of date by those who shall carry on the task of dis- 
covery. It was not so in former days. Hegel and Spencer 
thought they builded for the ages, but the successors of both 
Hegel and Herbert Spencer could hardly wait for the architect 
to move out before they began remodeling and wrecking. 

But although the authors of theories felt confident of final and 
absolute truth, it is easy to see how relative they were, not only 
because they neglected essential facts but also because social, 
political, and economic conditions always affect the abstractions 
of psychological theory. There is a compulsive nature of social 
thought, or at least social conditions always influence views about 
human nature. 

It is sobering to our egotism to realize that we are the children 
of our time, even as psychologists. The theoretical psychology 
of a convinced slave-holder could hardly have been the same as 
that of a confirmed abolitionist. This need not make us cynical, 
but it does enable us to understand why men in the past advo- 
cated views that we find it impossible to take seriously. 

If we begin with the era called modern we may first briefly men- 
tion the theory of innate ideas. It was in the period of the 
Thirty Years' War, when the foundations of certainty were 
threatened. Since men could no longer safely rely on authority 
and the conflicting sentences of the monks, and since the church, 
the state, and the vigorous new science were firmly established on 
something, men considered the ideas, beliefs, and axioms, both 
moral and scientific, to be as much an innate part of them as the 
color of their eyes. Ideas were the elements. Innate ideas, 
instinctive ideas, they were, never having been taught or learned. 
With this equipment it was possible to account for the activities 
and organization of the world. 

Neglecting everything else but the elements, we may note that 
ideas were the possession of an existing soul. Ideas were not the 
soul the soul had ideas. Ideas were innate. This was proved 
because they were certain, self-evident, and had no origin in 
remembered experience. The advocates were unable to over- 
come the handicap of cultural isolation. Everyone, everywhere, 
admitted a belief in God; therefore, such a belief was born in 
everyone. It was centuries before the notion of the mores was 
advanced and the tendency to assume as universally human 
that which is culturally old and still current was to reappear 


many times, surviving in the belated reasoning of McDougall 
and Pare to. 

Ideas caused motion and action. It is easy to see the favorable 
soil for such a notion. Institutions were challenged and defended, 
and it was the hope of men that by opposing reason to tradition 
and to passion it would be possible to think a way out of the 

Innate ideas were accepted, but they did not endure. The 
English scholars of the Enlightenment had no doubt of the value 
of reasoning, and if right ideas could only be spread, it seemed 
possible to reform and reconstruct a troubled world. It would 
be difficult for a revolutionist in an age when men were challeng- 
ing the divine right of kings to accept the doctrine of innate ideas, 
and Locke and his followers were revolutionists. Ideas were 
still the " elements/ 7 but not innate. It was a blank tablet on 
which the ideas were imprinted and whereon they were marvel- 
ously combined according to the fixed laws of association. This 
view prevailed for a long time, ending within the memory of men 
now living, though greatly modified in detail as successive 
expounders tried to patch it up. It is today only a museum piece. 

This theory was a valuable tool for the defense of the democracy 
of that day. Reason produces action and consists of combina- 
tions of ideas which can be associated in obedience to fixed laws. 
At the hands of the Herbartians the ideas were endowed with 
force and power, struggling and surging to get over the threshold 
of consciousness, lending a hand to a friend, or pushing off from 
the narrow standing room all unwelcome companions. Elaborate 
mathematical formulas were developed to describe what would 
happen in the seething company. 

Two things happened to lead to the revision and ultimate rejec- 
tion of this formulation. One was the difficulty of accounting 
for the connection of ideas, defined as immaterial, with the 
brawn and sinews of the body, through the brain, which were 
admittedly material and grossly so. The keenest minds of the 
age were racked as they strove to find a plausible answer. And 
many answers were given, of which none has survived. Like so 
many other problems, it was not solved; it was simply outgrown. 
How a spiritual force coming from outside could touch a ponder- 
able nerve-mass was insoluble because it didn't happen. At 
least so later thinkers concluded. William James exercised his 


genius wrestling with this puzzle, but his views have only a his- 
torical interest. If, on the other hand, ideas are assumed to 
occur within the course of experience and not as its cause and 
source, a more satisfactory statement of the relation is possible. 

Another influence affecting the associationist psychology was 
the waning enthusiasm for the equalitarian theory. It is paradox 
of democracy that in breaking up hereditary inequalities and pri- 
vileges it stimulates competition and struggle and thus encourages 
individual differences. The modern vocational guidance advisers, 
with their " batteries" of tests aiming to reveal the important 
I.Q.'s were anticipated in aim nearly a century and a half ago by a 
"faculty psychology" that sought to describe our elements as 
specific capacities, varying in individuals, governed by separate 
organs of the brain, and discoverable by observing the external 
contours of the skull. 

Phrenology is gone, surviving only as a form of charlatan sooth- 
saying, and its list of faculties has disappeared with it, but the 
keen-eyed student may at times see it thinly disguised in current 
notions about abilities or capacities or even instincts. There is, 
however, no attempt at present to formulate a list of elemental 
faculties. The failure of the phrenological system of elements 
was due in part to the top-heavy growth of the list of faculties 
and the growing list of inconsistencies and exceptions. Its 
death-blow was received when brain physiologists succeeded in 
localizing the functions of various parts of the brain. The organ 
of the faculty of reverence, which every good preacher needs to 
have well developed, turned out to be the motor center controlling 
the muscles that move the toes. Rarely has a widely accepted 
theory received such a conclusive refutation. 

But faculty psychology survived in various ways, and the 
division into intellect, feeling, and will has in it the same basic 
logic. Books have been written not so long since on the training 
of the will, as though it were a race horse to be trotted around a 

The great experimental movement in psychology moved a step 
closer in the relating of mind and body. This work, begun in 
Germany, soon spread abroad and led to the founding of labora- 
tories and to the present independence and isolation of psychology 
from philosophy. The tragedy of King Lear foretold the ingrati- 
tude of this lusty daughter and her distress when her orphaned 


state was realized. Physiological psychology owes its existence 
to physiologists who wished to know what correlations could be 
discovered between eye and color, tongue and taste, and all the 
rest of our equipment. Its most brilliant achievements were 
obtained in the effort to follow the model of chemistry, where the 
elements have yielded to patient inquiry following a sound 

The element of physiology is the cell. Perfected microscopic 
technique had made it possible to see cells in their isolation. To 
what extent was it possible to find conscious experiences as simple 
and unitary as the neuron ? Reasoning had already been broken 
up into judgments, judgments into terms, terms traced back to 
perceptions, and these in turn broken up into "sensations." To 
find the elementary sensations gifted men labored for many years 
and with brilliant results. They had started with five senses but 
they ended with dozens of specific ones, and hundreds of degrees. 
It was proved in the laboratory that the human consciousness 
can distinguish hundreds of shades of gray. Touch is not one 
sense but five; taste is four; and smell is many more. Sense 
organs were even discovered in ambush in unsuspected places in 
muscles, tendons, and joints, else we could not know when we 

The analysis of sensation into the hundreds of elements and the 
correlating of these elements with the cells of the sense organs, 
and the successful blazing of the trail along the sensory nerves to 
the outer bark (cortex) of the brain along an association fiber to 
a motor center, then down to the muscle cell till the baby grasps 
the ball all this was accomplished with gratifying unanimity. 
Another class of elements was also discovered the feelings 
of pleasure and pain though there was not quite the same 
unanimity, some authorities wishing to add other feelings. But 
the work of thirty years of patient seeking resulted in the agree- 
ment that only two classes of elements exist in human experience, 
sensations and feelings, the feelings resulting from the way in 
which the sensation is mediated. Any sensation can be either 
pleasant or unpleasant; thus a too-bright light will be unpleasant, 
as will one too dim. 

Having taken the machine apart, it was not so easy to put it 
together again. Just how the self is constituted was not easy to 
state, and the mechanism of desire and aversion was capable of a 


statement only approximately satisfactory. This was of little 
concern to many of the workers who were so interested in the 
analysis of experience into elements and the correlation with 
physiology that the larger problems were put aside against a 
day of reckoning. And the day of reckoning came. By the 
second decade of the century, Gestaltists, Behaviorists, and 
Freudians were advancing to the attack against different sectors 
of the position. 

In relating sensation and movement the experimentalists had 
gone a step beyond the early associationists. It was no longer a 
mystery how a sensory impulse could get into connection with a 
motor mechanism. The connection can actually be seen with the 
eye on a well-stained slide. In the twentieth century it was not 
necessary to interpolate an idea or a conscious process between 
sensory receptor and motor effector, for the sensation is defined as 
a stimulus and generates a current, and when this current runs 
over the path the movement is complete. But what of con- 
sciousness? Various answers were given to this question, one 
of which was that consciousness indeed takes place, an "epiphe- 
nomenon" and not essential to behavior. Consciousness was 
compared to the sound of a gun, an invariable accompaniment 
under certain circumstances of certain connections but not 
necessary to the accurate work of the gun. The behaviorists 
simply put a silencer on the gun and claimed that it worked just 
as well. If behavior is the organization of the nervous system 
and is accomplished by synaptic connections, why appeal to 

American Behaviorism may be thought of as an outgrowth of 
the physiological psychology, with its gadgets for the study of the 
body and its methods of introspection for explaining the mind; 
but in the meantime, another formulation of elemental con- 
stituents claimed attention and received wide approval. This 
was the doctrine of instincts. 

Two weaknesses in classic associationism help to make intel- 
ligible the rise of the instinct psychology. The first is the extreme 
rationalism of the older view against which instinctivism is a 
reaction. It does not require a study of mob psychology to cast 
doubt on the doctrine that reasoned ideas are the cause of human 
conduct. Rationalism was the effective polemic weapon for 
bringing to book the claims of ancient and outworn institutions. 


The associationists are not to be blamed for asserting the right 
to reason about such matters, nor is it strange that they should 
come to believe that rational thought was the prime mover in 
conduct. Whatever the steps by which it came about, there 
grew up a new recognition of impulse and emotional urge for 
which reasons are, indeed, sometimes given but which seem to 
have other sources than cold, passionless thought. 

But the most important influence in the new formulation was, 
of course, the new biology and the widespread attempt to apply 
its conclusions to every department of scientific inquiry, from 
astronomy to child psychology. In medieval thought man was 
created with a dual nature, body and soul joined in a somewhat 
inharmonious union, with the task of making the best of it till 
the soul could be released from its dangerous partner. The 
teaching that man is, without reservation, animal, was new, 
exciting, and for good reason unwelcome. At length it came to 
be accepted, and William James in 1890 presented man with a 
greater number of instincts than any other animal. Most of 
them, however, he found in the animals also, and the tendency 
became general to assign their origin to a prehuman period, or 
at latest, to a mythical age when "primitive man" was acquiring 
habits, useful enough for him, but of doubtful value, some of 
them, to us who were doomed to inherit them. 

For some thirty years instincts were unquestioned as the serv- 
iceable and adequately known elements of personality. For a 
time psychologists retained the machinery of associated ideas, 
but these were later abandoned and the picturesque repertoire 
was the chief reliance of all social scientists. It is true that the 
instincts were most useful for retrospective explantions. They 
served chiefly to "explain" the past acts of men by appealing to 
the more remote acts of beasts. The alibi it offered to man was 
a bit unheroic. The acts and thoughts of a man were, it is true, 
due to experience, but never to his own experience. One writer 
traced the satisfaction of baseball to the savages whose clubs were 
necessary to survival, as was their skill in running and throwing. 

The decline of instinctivism was rapid, once it began. Several 
difficulties began to appear in the thought of those who had 
accepted the doctrine with enthusiasm and had proceeded to 
try to carry it out as a method. One of the difficulties was the 
impossibility of determining the number of these elements or 


feeling any certainty as to their nature. Various lists were pro- 
posed, many lists eventually appearing, but hardly any two lists 
agreed, nor was it possible to bring the problem to a crucial test 
or to any test. It presently appeared that there was no method. 
The " primitive man" appealed to was placed so far back in time 
that no facts were available and resort was had to imaginary 
accounts, interesting little stories of fanciful events which might 
explain had they been true but of which there was no evidence. 
Once psychologists became critical of the notion, it was easy 
to see, by a comparison of peoples and epochs, that what had been 
assumed to be a universal human instinct was in fact only the 
acquired attitude taken over from a social custom. 

The instincts failed to meet the needs of students of human 
nature because evidence was lacking that the complicated 
inherited habits which are so characteristic of birds, beasts, and 
insects have their counterpart in the human organism. The 
number of instincts appears to be in inverse ratio to educability 
and of all animals man is the most educable and plastic of living 
creatures. If we seek elements we shall look for them in vain 
in the instincts. 

When the Behaviorists appeared on the scene, physiological 
psychology had finished the inventory of sensations and feelings 
and was occupied in attacking other problems by the method of 
introspection under controlled laboratory conditions. Eventu- 
ally Behaviorism offered, as the elements we are seeking, a list of 
inherited reflexes, which by conditioning permit the development 
of a personality. 

We may note circumstances that led to the appearance of this 
formulation: the controversy about imageless thought, the rise of 
reflexology in Russia, the experimental work on animals, and the 
collapse of the instinct doctrine, already mentioned. 

The controversy about imageless thought began in Germany 
but was taken up in the learned journals in America and else- 
where. A very brief account will suffice. The orthodox theory 
of mental elements required sensations, which were bundled up 
into perceptions and could be revived as images. When some 
experiments were published declaring that in reasoning out 
certain problems some of the subjects reported that no imagery 
was present, violent disputes arose, Wundt claiming that the 
introspection could not have been accurate. His opponents 


insisted that they were correct and that they had introspected 
correctly since they were "trained" introspectionists. 

Sides were taken freely on the issue, but one unexpected posi- 
tion was that of the Behaviorists, who felt that if the high priests 
of introspection could not agree it was justifiable to pronounce a 
plague on both their houses. Accordingly this was done, and 
since introspection involves conscious memory and since the 
introspectionist method was to be discarded, the concept of 
consciousness was discarded as unnecessary and even redundant. 

The brilliant experiments on animals had shown what sur- 
prisingly interesting results can be obtained by setting a problem 
for an animal, observing him carefully, varying the conditions, 
and recording the results. Here, of course, there was no intro- 
spection, and if there was consciousness it was irrelevant. 

The familiar Russian experiments on animals showed how 
animals and even man can, by simultaneous presentation of 
stimuli, acquire an automatic response to what was originally 
wholly ineffective. This gave hope of stating the complicated 
behavior of adults as the effect of such simultaneous association 
of cues. 

Finally, the decline of the vogue of instinctivism resulted in 
the formulation of a list of inherited movements that could be 
observed and recorded in careful observations on children so 
controlled as to admit of verification by other investigators. 
Thus the specious appeal to a fictitious archeology of human 
behavior was made unnecessary. 

The experiments were carefully done and the enthusiasm with 
which the results were received by many of the younger men 
resulted in the announcement of a whole system instead of a 
valuable contribution to the old. The reflex was regarded as the 
key to the interpretation of human life and the conditioning of 
the reflexes was presented in a manner analogous to the doctrine 
of association of ideas a hundred years older. Since the reflexes 
are simple and universal in children, it was thought to be possible, 
by skillful conditioning, to produce any desired type of behavior 
and thus offer to education a new and sovereign method. 

But difficulties appeared. The reflexes are indeed present and 
exist in large number. On the other hand, they are relatively 
invariable and can be modified or suppressed with the utmost 
difficulty. Conditioning, as revealed by the experiments and 


the observations, did not alter the course of the reflex; it only 
changed the occasion of the reflex response. That the salivating 
dog should come to react to a musical note was interesting and 
significant, but it did not allow for the teaching of the old dog 
any new tricks. The Behaviorists in discussing the acquisition of 
language by a child could make a plausible statement about how 
a child comes to understand the meaning of words said to him, 
or, in their terminology, how he comes to respond to words which 
are used to condition the original unconditioned reflex. But 
when it is desired to tell about the child's talking, the only con- 
tribution is: "In course of time the child comes to say: 'open 
box/ etc." But the drooling dog did not come, in the course of 
time, to play the violin. The conditioning of a reflex is the arousal 
of an inherited movement by a stimulus not originally capable of 
such an effect; conditioning offers no interpretation of the growth 
and development of new and complicated habits and attitudes. 
The reflexes and other less definite movements must enter into 
combinations for which conditioning is an inadequate explanation. 
About the same time that the Behaviorists began to publish in 
America, there arose another revolt against the traditional psy- 
chology with its elements of sensation and feeling. They began 
with some brilliant work in the psychology of perception and 
might have had more influence had they not yielded to the temp- 
tation, so common in a commercial age, to build up a whole rival 
system. The details of their criticisms cannot be given here, 
but mention may be made of their insistence that the sensations 
that were investigated in the laboratory were not the experiences 
that are constituents of normal experience. In distinguishing 
the many shades of gray, the observer is not only abstracting 
what is usually a marginal constituent of experience : he is placing 
himself in a comparing attitude, according to instructions, and 
this attitude is necessary for the judgment to be made. The 
connection of attitude and perception compels a revision of the 
notion that sensations result from the mere excitation of an end- 
organ by external energy. Indeed, the criticism goes farther 
and insists that the reception of a sensation, far from being a 
primary or elementary experience, is the result of abstraction 
and sophistication, and these points are defended by means of 
ingenious experiments and careful logic. A perception is held to 
be always an organization with a form, or gestalt, and the group 


has adopted the name of the gestalt school. The " bundle 
hypothesis" is successfully refuted, since the exact stimulus may 
be made to produce a variety of effects. 

Some of the conditioning experiments which were accepted as 
conclusive consisted in training an animal to go to a food-box that 
was the lighter of two. It was assumed that the sense organs 
were associated as to the tract used. The gestalt psychologists 
repeated the experiment, then substituted a still lighter one and 
took the darker one away. The animal went to the new one 
which had not been " conditioned" at all. This was held to show 
that the animal was responding to a figure and was, in reality, 
choosing the "lighter of two." Confirmatory results were 
obtained with children. 

The gestalt seemed at first to be about ready to give up the 
concept of elements altogether and to derive their categories 
from the phenomena of interaction, but they were prevented 
from doing so by the difficulty encountered in accounting for the 
particular form or configuration. The assumption is made, 
therefore, that some of the Gestalten exist in the soul to correspond 
with those found in nature. While this doctrine is not prominent, 
it seems to be clearly held. But any accurate or experimentally 
determined number of these forms awaits demonstration. 

It is in the voluminous writings of the psychoanalysts that the 
sharpest break with psychology is made, for the nervous system 
is completely ignored and attention is largely confined to conflicts 
in the "soul," whose incestuous and selfish desires are assumed 
to be primary and elemental and therefore in tragic and perpetual 
conflict with social requirements. How the " movement" split 
promptly into a number of rival schools, each with a leader 
claiming to be the only true prophet, how it was skillfully com- 
mercialized, how its proponents entered unhesitatingly into every 
specialized field of social science, pontifically pronouncing con- 
clusions in anthropology, sociology, history, biography, mythol- 
ogy, and religion, reaching at a bound the solution of problems 
for which patient scholars are still industriously laboring all 
these are familiar to every reader. 

It has all the elements of a cult, for men "believe in" psycho- 
analysis as they believe in the gospel, or rather instead of believing 
in the gospel, not from scientific evidence but from emotional con- 
viction or from some personal emotional experience, as men 


adopt Christian Science because they have been healed of their 

To account for the rapid rise and popularity of these views will 
be easier for our successors than for us. Psychoanalysis came 
on the scene when orthodox psychology was facing confusion. It 
emphasized sex at a time of world- wide postwar disorganization 
and subtly insinuated, if it did not openly advocate, a form of 
indulgence which every period of disorganization has witnessed 
but which had never before claimed a "scientific" justification. 
Its proponents are masters of publicity and have characterized 
as " rationalization " all arguments and reasons that do not agree 
with their own. Dealing with mental abnormality, they have 
been of little assistance to legitimate psychiatry, since they can- 
not reveal, as physicians do, the details of their treatment to 
their medical colleagues. Their patients consist chiefly of the 
more affluent unfortunates who gladly pay for the comforting 
assurance that their disorders are not serious since they have 
been present from earliest infancy. The doctrine is at present 
decidedly popular with a certain class of social workers who should 
know, if anyone does, what sex repression means. 

The central doctrine of the Unconscious (impressively capi- 
talized) appears to be a hypostatization of the notion of the 
subliminal which is at least three hundred years old and has 
received recognition ever since. But the Unconscious is pre- 
sented in the books of these men as the most important aspect 
of human life, a rather repulsive dungeon where evil spirits are 
confined, to be exorcised by letting the cat out of the bag. If 
proof of the existence of this limbo is demanded, reference is 
made to the maturation of problems, a phenomenon long familiar. 
Men have awakened from sleep to find a difficult solution all 
clearly apprehended, but it can also be said that a skater has 
suddenly found his performance improved, though this would 
not mean that the Unconscious had been exercising on the ice. 

Wishes or desires appear to be the limit of analysis here, and, 
under the influence of this formulation, certain sociologists and 
psychologists have attempted to erect a structure on the same 
foundations. But all the desires of men on which data can be 
gathered turn out to be strivings or tendencies toward more or 
less specific goals, and to erect desires as units involves serious 
logical difficulties. A desire is transitory, a stage in activity, an 


impulse seeking a more or less definite satisfaction, a craving 
which disappears and dies when the goal is reached. Desires 
are phases of action but are not involved in all acts. There is 
also impulsive behavior and there are stabilized "sets" which 
are related to past satisfactions and may be the occasion of future 
desires but are hardly to be identified with desires as such. 

Moreover, there are vague cravings which are capable of 
numerous alternative directions. Social experience, moral norms, 
and collective aims cannot be neglected in understanding the 
origin of desires and their complex nature. The attempt to make 
wishes the atoms or elements of personality results either in a 
rough classification of them or in a list of instinctive wishes which 
present all the logical difficulties of any instinct doctrine. Activ- 
ity, movement, behavior, conduct, striving these are all indubi- 
tably to be asserted of human nature, but to isolate one form of 
the activity as elemental would seem to be inadequate and 

For wishes or desires include a striving for a definite goal or 
satisfaction, and this goal appears in experience as an image of 
what would satisfy the desire. The image, in turn, is derived 
from social experience and cannot, as far as we know, be unre- 
lated to remembered or promised satisfactions. Desires, then, 
come from the culture and not from the solitary soul. 

The list of elements could have been longer. We have seen 
that innate ideas have been proposed as fundamental elements; 
later on, acquired ideas, imprinted by sensations. The account 
has included the faculties variously enumerated, the sensations 
and feelings of the experimentalists, the instincts of the evolu- 
tionists, the reflexes of the Behaviorists, the forms of the Gestalt- 
ists, and the desires of various groups. What are the elements 
into which it is possible to analyze this unity? Or may it not be 
possible that the long and incongruous list reveals a search for 
the elements of something which is a unity of such a sort that it 
cannot be divided into elements? 

The question is not without importance, but the problem of 
personality is not only in a very unsatisfactory state; we still are 
without a sound and agreed method by means of which it may be 
studied. It is surely not beyond the power of the human intellect. 
Personality is complex, but so is every object of study in every 
field or science. We need time, and patient men, able to search 


diligently and weigh their evidence impartially, not hugging 
doctrines as darling possessions, and concerned chiefly with 
sound procedures of testing their results. 

It would appear that the human personality always grows up in 
association and communication. The very word comes from the 
language of the stage and is a sort of metaphor signifying that we 
play a part or assume a role in the drama of life when we achieve 
a personality. For personality is an achievement and man is 
not born human, since to be a self is to be a subject which is its 
own object. It may be that, since personality is the sequel to a 
series of events, the elements are to be found, if we must have 
them, in the surrounding milieu. 

This is obviously true of the language one speaks. The vocab- 
ulary, the syntax, and the meaning of phrases, are incorporated 
into experience with whatever increment of distortion or of 
enrichment. One might attempt to analyze a language, and, if 
it be reduced to writing, it would appear that all our vast litera- 
ture can be inscribed by using just over a couple of dozen char- 
acters. But are they elements? Do they have existence and 
meaning and function, considered separately? Here is the 
letter s. Let us write the words "nail," "now," "pear," "care," 
"peak," "pill." If to each of these words we incorporate the s 
we have "snail," "snow," "spear," "scare," "speak," "spill." 
Is it possible to speak of the function of the s? No analysis of 
meanings will reveal any elementary quality in the s. Each word 
is a whole, a picture, a form, a gestalt. It is not made up of 
elements. Each letter taken alone may be the object of attention, 
but in combination there is formed that which resists analysis. 
This analogy is not, of course, exact but may help to clarify the 

The attitudes are sometimes spoken of as elemental. But in 
what sense may we say so? The word "attitude" is here used 
to denote a tendency toward a mode of action, usually highly 
generalized, and resulting from the actions that have left their 
effect on the whole. The prejudices, biases, interests, preferences, 
loves, hates, and such like are words we use to denote attitudes. 
Now if a man has a violent prejudice toward Mussolini, is an 
ardent admirer of Ghandi, is very much opposed to the tariff, 
is interested in the Boy Scout movement, prefers beef rather than 
pork, loves his child, and hates Fascism, we may speak of all of 


these as attitudes. We may think of these tendencies present in 
him continually, ready to be evoked, perhaps even seeking to 
find some expression, though clearly they would have to take their 
turn. In one sense, perhaps, we may call them elements. 

But if attitudes be considered elements, they perform no such 
logical function as the elements of chemistry or of physiology. 
For attitudes are demonstrably the result of action and may be 
most helpfully conceived as residual propensities or predispositions 
left over from social experience. The attitudes that are signifi- 
cant from the standpoint of a theory of personality are those 
incorporations into the individual self of habits and beliefs in 
the mores of a society. 

Neither ideas, faculties, instincts, nor attitudes exist as ele- 
ments out of which personality is constituted. Rather do all of 
these, or what were supposed to be these, result from the par- 
ticular selection and variation made by each individual person 
on the folkways and mores that he encounters. 

Perhaps the disagreements of the past three hundred years 
may be explained by assuming that the differences were due to 
the impossibility of the problem. Men could not agree on the 
elements because they do not exist. The assumption in all of 
them was that individuals constitute society. But if we assume 
that society produces personalities, then the elements of per- 
sonality will be found, not in the individual self at all, but in 
the collective life of his people. 

The history of the thought of the last three hundred years could 
almost be written as the passage in one realm of life and another 
from fixity and absoluteness to change and relativity. An 
immovable world gave place to a revolving sphere; a fixed peasan- 
try cruelly repressed in the fourteenth century in England and 
in France, and in the seventeenth in Germany and who had 
long remained bound to the soil, found freedom of movement 
and began to people the new world. Religious faith, once 
delivered as unchangeable, has become a developing experience, 
a matter permitting choice and freedom to individual men. 
Momentous changes came when the divine right of kings received 
its challenge with the execution of Charles I and its deathblow 
with the condemnation of Louis XVI. And if the American 
Declaration of Independence, which asserted that the consent 
of the governed was the source of the just power of the ruler, 


was disturbing to the later eighteenth century, it was blasphe- 
mous to the medieval mind and to all who held unrevised the 
medieval view of man. It was Woodrow Wilson in the twentieth 
century who, voicing what was in the minds of his people, 
expressed the ultimate consequence of this long movement when 
he declared that the reign of law, based on the consent of the 
governed, was to be sustained by the " organized opinion of 
mankind." In this statement opinion, with its tides and currents, 
was changed from an object of scorn to the final court of appeal 
in political life. 

It was not alone in ecclesiastical and political life that change 
and the relative replaced the fixed and absolute. The biology 
of the nineteenth century transformed the unchanging types, 
created by a thought of God, into slowly developing species still 
growing from form to form. Wide knowledge of a vaster world 
led to a study of comparative moral codes, and folkways were 
seen to evolve into mores and into crescive institutions, each 
with its life and history. In logic, reasoning, which had begun 
with a major premise and proceeded up syllogistic stairs to a 
fixed conclusion, became an activity which begins with a diffi- 
culty and a problem and ends with a hypothesis whose life is 
uncertain, destined, like the ox-cart, to be discarded for some- 
thing better when that shall be discovered. 

The theory of human nature which we call " psychology" did 
not assimilate this conception readily. Although political and 
social reforms, as well as theological movements, were based on 
psychological arguments, yet these are seen in retrospect as con- 
sequences and corollaries of programs of action. Rousseau and 
Hobbes did not differ in their political views on account of their 
views of the original nature of man; their theories of human nature 
were arguments in support of their programs of action. And in 
the later controversies between rationalists and empiricists, no 
less than the more recent disputes between instinctivists and 
Behaviorists, both sides of the controversy agree in a common 
premise that there is a list of stable elements that can be dis- 
covered. The rebellious youth who defiantly appeals to his 
right to express his instinctive urges is a brother under the skin 
to the aged conservative who insists that the institutions of 
society are authoritative because they are founded on the 
immutable instincts of the race. It is only since the rise of recent 


social psychology that the conception of human nature as the 
result of action has been formulated. This view might be termed 
histrionic or dramatic, for it conceives the personality as a role, 
a part to be played, and the role of an actor depends on the play 
that is being enacted. Institutions and customs precede indi- 
viduals, and personality results from participation in these 
ongoing social processes. 

Human personality, arising in communication, is the result of 
conduct which takes place in the presence of others and in con- 
tacts with friends and enemies, allies and opponents. Person- 
ality is mobile, self -developing, self -organizing. Groups precede 
babies and children are born into communities with customs. To 
assume fixed points of origin or stable elements which are com- 
bined into a personality is to reverse the order of development. 
Ideas, sensations, and wishes occur, but they are events and 
consequences, not elements. They must be defined in terms of 
the social process, not the process in terms of them. 


Graduate students in sociology have included in their reading 
the treatise of Pareto 1 for the past ten years, indeed, since the 
appearance of the French translation. The American transla- 
tion now makes the material available to the undergraduate 
body of students, and offers an appropriate occasion for appraisal 
and evaluation. Since the present version has been preceded 
and accompanied by a very effective advertising campaign and 
by a number of very extravagant eulogies written by literary 
men and others not competent in this field, it is fitting to inquire 
concerning the book, whether it is of value to students of soci- 
ology. The initial sale was large, and therefore the conclusions 
of any reviewer can be appraised by a large number of purchasers 
who are already in possession of the twenty-dollar set. In prep- 
aration, the reviewer has read the whole of the new translation, 
being already familiar with the French edition. 

Although teachers of sociology will not choose to remain wholly 
ignorant of a work that has so much publicity, yet there seems 
no reason whatever why anyone else should be asked to spend 
time in reading these bulky volumes. Whatever in them is 
sound is not only not new, but is much better stated by authors 
long familiar to American scholars. The announced attempt to 
build an entirely new system of sociology can hardly be deemed 
successful. Many people have asked, like Pareto, what is the 
matter with sociology. Deficiencies in our science are evident, 
heaven knows, but one thing the matter with sociology is that its 
literature has been hidden from the eyes of those who imagine 
that they can build up a complete and adequate system while 
ignoring the work of other men. He who builds on nothing 

1 PARETO, VILFBEDO, The Mind and Society (Trattato di sociologia generale). 
Edited by Arthur Livingston. Translated by Andrew Bongiorno and 
Arthur Livingston with the advice and active cooperation of James Harvey 
Rogers. Harcourt, Brace <fc Company, New York, 1935, 4 vols. 



builds nothing. The author who acknowledges no debt to any- 
body is one whose contribution is probably no greater than his 
debt. Science is funded knowledge; and a science of sociology, 
still in the making, will be the work of many patient scholars, 
each adding a little to the store. In no other way does a science 

An interesting contrast and comparison can be made between 
the American Sumner and the Italian Pareto. Both of them 
became known as economists; and both found the abstractions 
of economic theory disappointing to them in their efforts to 
understand human society. All those conceptions which 
cluster around the notion of the " economic man" appeared to 
leave out so much that was vital, that both of these men turned 
to sociology. Sumner had long been familiar with the non- 
rational aspects of human life. To Pareto, whose reading in 
sociology appears to have been almost negligible, this came as a 
startling new discovery. Those of us who have had thrills of 
originality can understand the enthusiasm which he must have 
felt when this old truth became new to him. 

Sumner proceeded to gather examples of non-rational behavior 
and ffnally produced a measure of order out of chaos when he 
divided the folkways from the mores and showed their relation 
to the later developing institutions. It is a great misfortune that 
the isolation of Pareto precluded any acquaintance with Sumner's 
work, which appeared some years before his own. He struggled 
with the problem of the non-rational customs, but gave it up 
and turned from a study of the customs of men to a consideration 
of the mere words they used in defending these customs and to 
the innate causes of them. Sumner attempted a small task and 
in a measure succeeded. Pareto tried a larger enterprise with 
but lamentably meager results. 

One of the differences between Sumner and Pareto appears in 
their attitude toward morals. Sumner is scientific and objective. 
Moral conduct, he found, is approved conduct and grows up in 
every society. It is relative to the life of that society. The 
sociologist does not, indeed, interest himself in what "ought to 
be," but he finds it profitable and even necessary to study care- 
fully the duties which men perform because they believe they 
ought to do them. Sumner found the mores to be always true 
and right. *'The mores can make anything right and prevent 


condemnation of anything." The most curious customs thus 
become valuable data to be interpreted. Pareto failed to achieve 
this objectivity. To him right and truth had no correspondence 
with reality. His theory of knowledge was the naive position 
that there must be a correspondence between the idea and some 
visible or tangible object. He could not find any such reality 
corresponding to, say, a " state of law." His patience is quickly 
exhausted and the use of such words is the occasion for contemp- 
tuous irony. Seizing on a reference to the "true" meaning of a 
word, used by a writer, he fairly snorts: "Twenty-one guns for 
our old friend True" (2160 1 ). (The parentheses refer to the 
numbered sections of the book.) 

The announced purpose is to construct a system of sociology 
on the model of celestial mechanics or physics or chemistry (20). 
"We move in a narrow field, the field of experience and observa- 
tion" (71). By "experience" he means "direct experience," a 
definition hardly enlightening (580). "I intend to take my stand 
strictly within the field of experimental science" (79). "Proof 
of our propositions we seek strictly in experience and observation" 
(69:7). "I intend to remain absolutely in the logico-experimen- 
tal field and refuse to depart from it under any circumstances 
whatever" (17). Similar statements are iterated over and over 
again. Had he been able to live up to the expectations aroused 
by these promises, the book would have been a very different 

Not only are we promised that conclusions will be everywhere 
verified by facts; we are also assured that there will be the most 
meticulous attention paid to a rigorous and exact definition of 
terms. "In the logico-experimental sciences the aim is to make 
language as exact as possible" (p. 1927). "If things are desig- 
nated beyond the possibility of doubt or misunderstanding, the 
names that are given to them matter hardly at all" (p. 1927). 
"Let us keep to our quest for relationships between facts, and 
people may give them any name they please" (2). "Words are 
of no importance whatever to us, they are labels for keeping track 
of things" (119). "We use words strictly to designate things" 
(108). "We shall use terms of ordinary parlance, explaining 
exactly what they represent" (119), Never was a promise 
more clearly made, more often reiterated, or more flagrantly 


But before examining the undefined terms with which the book 
abounds, note another feature of science that receives much atten- 
tion. Experimental science is not only declared to limit itself to 
observed and experienced facts and to require exact definition 
of terms; there is another requirement: it must be mathematical. 
If only quantitative and mathematical methods could be applied 
in sociology! "In order to grasp the form of a society, it would 
be necessary to know what the elements are and how they func- 
tion in quantitative terms." If indices were assigned to the 
various elements we could state them in the form of mathematical 
equations. The number of these equations would equal the 
number of unknowns. But such equations are at present 
impossible (2062). In a footnote the possibility of imitating 
celestial mechanics is declared to be doubly unattainable for 
there "still would be the difficulty of solving the equations, a 
difficulty so great that it may well be called insuperable " (2062 x ). 

No single aspect of his failure is quite so hard for the author 
to endure as this disappointment about mathematics. "Pure 
economics" has its equations but leaves out of consideration 
necessary elements of society. Sociology would be possible if we 
could only have equations; but they are impossible of formulation, 
and they could not be solved if they were written. To this 
subject we are brought back again and again. Time after time 
the author writes that if this were only pure economics it would 
be a good place to write some equations and then a long series of 
such equations in economics is given, just to show that it can be 
done. The discussion finally reverts to the subject in hand with 
the plaintive remark that, unfortunately, sociology must use 
"ordinary language" and that mathematical treatment is not 
possible. The brilliant statistical work of modern sociologists 
is not mentioned and was presumably not known to the author. 
He makes no use whatever of mathematics. 

The decision to use "ordinary language" is, after all, reluc- 
tantly taken. Letters of the alphabet are employed to denote 
the important concepts for the first 500 pages and there are con- 
stant relapses into the same habit. The acts of men are, at first, 
denoted by c, the "very variable" ways in which these acts are 
explained are represented by 6, while the "relatively invariable," 
the "virtually constant," part of the whole is symbolized by a. 
Toward the first part of the second volume the author finds this 


algebraic practice getting tiresome and gives names to the 
symbols. The acts, c, he calls dlrivtes (translated " derivatives ") ; 
the reasons or proofs, 6, are named derivations; while the 
invariable portions, a, are given the name " residues." The acts 
are thus conceived as having three parts: the deeds, the reasons 
assigned, and the motives behind them. No sociologist could 
withhold his gratitude from an author whose work brought new 
light to this set of problems. But Pareto is disappointing and 
contributes nothing. 

One-third of the above program is given up and completely 
abandoned without even a start. The derivatives are frequently 
mentioned in the preliminary discussions of the relations of a, 6, 
and c, but they nowhere are studied. By derivatives, Professor 
Pareto meant the acts of men which are the object of study of 
Sumner in Folkways. The non-rational character of all customs 
is there brought to a demonstration, and Sumner shows how it is 
even impossible for men to plan successfully any new mores. 
Had Pareto not been ignorant of Sumner he might have done 
something with this area of life, but, unassisted, he found the 
subject too difficult and gave it up without a struggle. His 
only attitude toward the strange customs of other times and 
other lands is that of the untutored ethnocentric: a mingling of 
surprise, incredulity, and scorn. How could Newton "have 
harbored such childish idiocies?" (652); "Poor Strabo must have 
been out of his mind" (594 1 ). 

The folkways and the mores, in which non-rationality is most 
obviously apparent, proved too difficult. The word "derivative " 
does occur once in the fourth volume and is such a surprise to the 
translator that he adds a footnote to the effect that the use of 
the word is so exceptional as to be unique and must be regarded 
as a slip of the pen (2270 *). The word is used repeatedly in the 
beginning of the first volume, where the plan is set forth. But 
the acts of men are not expounded; they are abandoned and 

Nearly three-fourths of the material is concerned with residues 
and derivations: much of Volume I and all of Volumes II and III. 
The latter two volumes require nearly a thousand pages, more 
than 1,200 numbered sections, and about 976 footnotes, some of 
which are very long. The whole work, even after the translator 
has deleted many repetitions, has a total of 2,033 pages, 2,613 


numbered sections, to which must be added some 1,845 footnotes, 
very copious, many of which are several thousand words in length. 
The whole is said to contain about a million words. 

What the author has to say could have been presented in a 
scant tithe of the present length. The repetitions account for 
much of the prolixity, and the many " asides" account for much 
more; for the author constantly allows himself to be diverted, 
like Juliet's nurse, into garrulous and irrelevant discussions, or 
into diatribes against men who have excited his animosity. But 
a careful reading of the text forces the conclusion that the lack 
of clearness is due to the incompetence of Pareto for the task 
which he assigned to himself. One of his admirers has written 
that the treatise is a veritable pandemonium, as badly written 
as can be imagined, and that the reading of it is almost incompre- 
hensible. This author, Bousquet, goes on to say that "the 
absence of methodological plan is pushed to an almost patho- 
logical degree." Over and over again a return is made to a 
problem that refuses to come out right, and that, in the end, still 
refuses. Pareto was unable either to confess his obvious failure 
or to cease his futile efforts. 

Mention has been made of the determination, often repeated, 
to make the meaning of words as exact as possible. Yet even his 
most enthusiastic eulogists cannot agree on what is meant by 
residues, and some of them confess that they do not understand. 
Homan and Curtis wrote on this point: " We have struggled hard 
to make clear what we mean by a residue, and we are afraid that 
our struggles have only involved us more deeply in the mire of 
words." 1 And yet these two men had spent two years in a 
seminar on Pareto, conducted, it is true, by an enthusiastic pro- 
fessor of physiology. What puzzled them will puzzle any reader, 
for the author returns in vain again and again to the task of 
making clear his meaning, repudiating in one passage what he 
has written in another. It would seem to be impossible to write 
with clarity if the mind is in confusion. 

A few examples from the text will substantiate this statement. 
Very many more could be cited. The residues are those parts of 
the whole such that if the residues are known, the acts will also 
be known (1690). And yet the residues are unknowable, for 
only the derivations can be known (2083). The residues are 

1 The American Journal of Sociology, XL (March, 1935), 667. 


modified by the derivations (1735), but the residues are repeatedly 
declared to be invariable, virtually constant, etc. (850, p. 1916, 
and many other passages). In no place is the concept defined. 

It is the same with sentiments (865). The residues are mani- 
festations of sentiments but the concept is not made as exact as 
possible, for Pareto's admirers are continually puzzling their 
brains over the meaning of the word " sentiment." 

The residues also manifest instincts (870). But these mani- 
fested instincts are not defined as exactly as possible. They are 
not defined at all but remain in the limbo of the vague. Scornful 
words abound when an author uses a word which is left unde- 
fined. "I hope I shall be excused if I do not define this sweet 
entity" (2182). But instincts are assumed to be made known by 
the residues, which are, themselves, unknowable: " We know only 
the derivations " (2083) . In one passage it is asserted that behind 
residues and derivations alike are parts, or elements, or factors 
that are quite unknown and inaccessible (1690 2 ). 

The use by Pareto of the concept of instincts reminds one of 
McDougall, who presented his picturesque repertoire of innate 
elements in a volume that appeared as early as 1908. Had 
McDougalFs work been known to Pareto he might, at least, have 
made much larger use of animals. They are mentioned only 
casually, and with none of the zoological insistence^ McDougall. 
Pareto says that because the hen defends her chicks she does 
have a sentiment (1690). But he might have learned from 
McDougall to bring in the stallion and the peacock, the horse 
and the squirrel, and especially the monkey, who has the parental 
instinct, which, McDougall says, is lacking in " philosophers as a 
class. " Perhaps the difference in terminology will tend to obscure 
the identity of procedure. Both attempt to explain the sweep 
of history by appeal to inborn elements. McDougall accounts 
for the difference between the colonial empire of Britain and that 
of France by asserting that in the British the instinct of curiosity 
is strong and the instinct of gregariousness is weak, while the 
strength of these two instincts is reversed in the case of the 
French. Negroes, McDougall asserts, are strong in the instinct 
of submissiveness, which accounts for their having been slaves. 
McDougall paints with a larger brush than Pareto, tending to 
assign the same instincts in the same proportions to whole races, 
while Pareto is more concerned with the differential heredity of 


the different social classes; but, in his Lowell Institute lectures, 
McDougall 1 agrees with Pareto's essential position, sounding 
the alarm against the dysgenic effect of the social ladder. It is 
to be expected that Professor McDougall will find himself in 
sharp disagreement with Pareto, which is often the case with 
two writers who have assumed a common erroneous premise. 

It is with an equipment of undefined terms and unproved prop- 
ositions that Pareto comes at last to the task of classifying the 
residues which, "if known, will allow us to know the acts." The 
procedure is similar to that of McDougall or Allport or any other 
writer who " explains " a social fact by applying a biological label. 
Just as Allport 2 assigns the conditioning of the prepotent reflex 
of struggling as the explanation of the " espousal by the German 
people of the Kaiser's policy of invasion and devastation/' and 
just as McDougall accounts for the Protestant Reformation by 
asserting that the Nordic Protestants had different instincts from 
those of the racial groups that remained true to the Catholic 
Church, 3 so Pareto finds the institutions of Athens and Sparta 
to be due to differential residues, manifesting differential inherited 
instincts (2419). Acts, customs, and even national character are 
assumed to be due to the operation of specific forces, biological 
constants, which are obtained by first describing the conduct 
that is to be explained and then inventing a residue that would 
account for the conduct. 

Some of the confusion of Pareto would have been mitigated if 
he had realized that he was inverting the problem. The cultural 
life of man is, of course, to a large degree non-rational. This is 
not new but it is true. The customs of men do grow up without 
rational thought. Moreover, as Durkheim and his colleagues 
have so abundantly shown, the cultural products exercise a coer- 
cive influence on the individual members of a society whom they 
affect from their infancy. Thus the attitudes of men are the 
result of their social experience. The sentiments, the emotional 
aspect of the attitudes, are powerful and non-logical but they 
are the effects of social participation, not of innate constants. 
Pareto cannot understand how Newton could accept the religious 
ideas of his time. He is amazed that a man should adopt the 

1 Is America Safe for Democracy? 1921. 
8 Social Psychology, 1924, p. 59. 

3 Op. cit., p. 102. 


mores of his people. But where the mores exist they are always 
true and always right. It is not silly to accept them; it is human. 
The failure of Pareto is due to the same error into which McDou- 
gall fell : the error of mistaking that which is collectively originated 
and socially transmitted for a unitary and inherited individual 

The treatment of the residues and their classes is labored and 
long drawn out but singularly sterile. The residues are set forth 
according to genera, species, and subspecies, but most of them 
are illustrated only to be forgotten. In the final attempt to 
interpret the " general form of society " which depends on the 
residues, only two of them receive any but the most casual men- 
tion. The net result of all the labor in some five hundred pages 
is the conclusion that some people in every society are born inno- 
vators and rebels and others are natural-born conservatives, and 
when they do not breed true to type the social equilibrium is 
disturbed owing to "class circulation." The innovating residues, 
Class I, are christened "instinct of combinations/' a confusing 
phrase, since residues are never instincts but manifestations of 
instincts. What is meant is that some men are born with a 
tendency to combine one thing with another. In other words, 
there are some classes of men who are born with a tendency that 
causes association of ideas. Very much could be said about 
this formulation. Let us only recall that since every act of 
thought involves associations and therefore combinations, we 
may safely assume that even the most immovable reactionaries 
always have their plans and their schemes. 

The other residue, the only other one of which any use is made, 
is Class II, and is called the "persistence of aggregates/' We 
are not told what instinct this represents. It would appear to 
be a clumsy and perverse way of referring to the tendency to 
habit formation, which, again, might well be asserted of the whole 
human race and not be allowed to be the possession of any one 
class of society. It is to this class of residues that the disciples 
appeal when they wish to understand why a man desires to own 
his property. Habit is a phenomenon concerning which much 
is known and to which Pareto's discussion adds nothing save the 
masquerade of a confused terminology. 

In the third volume derivations are likewise presented in a 
similar classification, but here the results are even more meager. 


Classes and subclasses are set down, to the number of eighteen. 
But they are really all about the same. Four-fifths of the dis- 
cussion of them is occupied with the " verbal proofs" and the 
admission is made that, if defined a bit broadly, all the derivations 
could be put into this class. Nor is such a statement very strik- 
ing when we recall that derivations are the " verbal manifesta- 
tions" which men use to " prove" that what they do, or believe, 
is reasonable. The statement that verbal proofs should be 
called " verbal proofs" is hardly open to question, but one won- 
ders why it should take a volume of five hundred pages to say it. 

The author is often irritated, sometimes infuriated, and always 
puzzled and baffled to account for the content of the derivations 
he records. He simply cannot understand why men write such 
silly things and utter such incomprehensible absurdities. It 
would be difficult for anyone to understand if he started with 
the untenable assumption that the rationalizations are the mani- 
festations of innate tendencies, uninfluenced by social experience. 
Pareto insists that the derivations are manifestations of residues. 
They do not proceed from the actions of men but from the inher- 
ited instincts and sentiments and are due to the "hunger for 
thought." Men want to be logical and reasonable, and in their 
effort to be logical and reasonable they speak nonsense and write 
idiocies. They hunger for logic but satisfy their hunger with 

It would have been easier for him had he realized that he was 
dealing with a sociological and not a psychological problem. The 
derivations are arguments, reasons, explanations, rationaliza- 
tions. Now, reasons are given to opponents and are uttered in 
conversation or written to persuade or confute. Reasons that 
are advanced can always be assumed to have some relation to 
what the reasoner considers will influence his audience. Had 
Pareto seen this, he would not have berated Newton or St. Augus- 
tine or anyone. But the social escaped him. By examining 
words he came to predicate innate causes of the words, which 
were conceived as invariable biological elements. Divorced from 
the time and place in which they were uttered, many of the 
arguments cited are incomprehensible. Referred to the social 
situation, they are easily understood. 

There has been some discussion concerning the relation of 
Pareto's views to Italian Fascism. A reading of the fourth 


volume reveals an extraordinary correspondence, whether or not 
there is any causal influence. Pareto is bitterly scornful of the 
very word "morality" and equally contemptuous of truth, right, 
justice, and democracy. He is concerned with the "61ite." 

The 61ite are not the best; they are the strong and successful. 
A sneak thief is a member of the 61ite if he is a successful sneak 
thief and can avoid the police and accumulate a quantity of loot 
(2027). If he gets caught, he is not of the 61ite. Those who 
govern belong to the governing 61ite if they are strong and are 
willing to use force to kill their enemies. If the governing 61ite 
breed too many children who have an overabundance of the 
"persistence of aggregates," then some people who have strong 
"instincts of combinations" will drive them out and become the 
elite. This he calls "circulation of the 61ite." It is recognized 
that all this may involve murder and rapine but he does not 
hesitate to say that murder and rapine only mean that the strong 
and worthy have succeeded the weak and cowardly (2191). 
What to him is despicable is not to kill the weak but to defend 
ruthlessness by voicing appeals to right and justice, for these 
have no "correspondence with reality." The very word "jus- 
tice" infuriates Pareto. 

There is not sufficient space for a detailed account of the fourth 
volume to which the first three are preparatory. From the stand- 
point of sociology this is no loss. The volume is largely devoted 
to muck-raking and reminds one of Lincoln Steffens, but it lacks 
the objectivity and balance of Steffens and is devoid of Steffen's 
rich experience, rare insight, and high moral purpose. There is 
exposure of the corruption and rascality in government, with 
much attention to France and Italy and with very copious foot- 
notes, many of them clipped from the newspapers of the day. 
The speculators, the "foxes," were on top, but Mussolini and the 
other "lions" were destined to reach them with a well-aimed 
cuff, "and that will be the end of the argument" (2480 1 ). 

And thus the animals, rejected as sources of instincts, are pre- 
sented as ideals of conduct. The lion takes what he wants 
because he has the strength. Pareto goes one step beyond the 
doctrine that the end justifies the means; he scorns to give any 
justification at all. His ethics are the ethics of the beasts, the 
wild beasts, who never utter non-logical "verbal manifestations." 
"Since the world has been the world, the strong and courageous 


have been the ones to command, and the weak and cowardly the 
ones to obey, and it is, in general, a good thing for a country that 
it should be so" (2480 4 ). 

Although the book has no value for sociology, the student of 
personality should find it a serviceable document. The unin- 
tentional revelation of Pareto's coarseness, his scorn for moral 
principles (2316 10 ), his unfairness to opponents, his utter lack 
of a sense of humor, his towering egotism all these and much 
more are obtrusively manifest. Some competent student should 
work through the material with a view to understanding the 
development of the personality of an old man who aspired to be 
the Machiavelli of the middle classes. One result of such inves- 
tigation might be the explanation of why he thought he could 
teach the world sociology without ever having learned it, even 
if he must use a million words. 



If the task of education may be said to consist in transmitting 
the culture of a group to the immature members of it, it is obvious 
that " education" is a far wider term than would be necessary to 
describe what the institution of the school is trying to do. Pre- 
literate peoples have a very effective way of training the children 
in the arts and skills which they value and also in indoctrinating 
their young people with the approved moral and social principles 
and points of view. That this task is too heavy for a modern 
family or the unorganized members of the community is assumed 
in the very existence of schools with officials, trustees, administra- 
tors, and instructors. Civilized people have always valued the 
relatively artificial and necessarily formal organization which 
constitutes the institutionalized educational process. The task 
of the teacher has never been easy, but the universal assumption 
that it is becoming more difficult all the time is perhaps quite 
defensible. Perhaps, also, it is more difficult in America than 
elsewhere, for here exists an ideal by no means unquestioned in 
our day, but still dominant, that makes us want to give to all 
our people all the educational advantages which anyone can hope 
to acquire. This would be difficult anywhere, but when the 
population is so mixed culturally it becomes increasingly a heavy 

Two important questions have always concerned educators 
who became reflective about their work: the content to be passed 
on or inculcated, and the method of doing it. The first of these 
is the problem of the curriculum ; the second concerns methods of 
education and classroom management. In answering the ques- 
tions which necessarily arise, educators have for a long time 
appealed to psychology, and from psychologists they have 
received most valuable assistance. There has been growing, 
however, a feeling that the sociologist may have some help to 
give, and that perhaps some of the questions which psychology 



was assumed to have the answer for might be at least illuminated 
if the sociologists were appealed to. 

This has seemed to some to be particularly true of the question 
of content of teaching, that is, the curriculum. For a long time 
it was almost wholly traditional. In a static society it is likely 
that it would always be, and always remain, completely tradi- 
tional. The education of a child in Central Australia or in a 
Winnebago tribe would consist and one might even say should 
consist in the skillful transmission of an unvarying system of 
acts of skill and points of view. 

It is commonplace to say that modern life is changing so rapidly 
that this formula no longer applies. We do not teach Greek in 
our high schools, but there is a demand for typewriting and 
instruction about internal-combustion engines. Now it seems 
quite clear that psychology can furnish, as such, little assistance 
in providing the answer to the question of what should be taught, 
since the necessary social demands get such explicit and compel- 
ling recognition. The formula that education should " bring 
out" all the powers of an individual is obviously unworkable, 
for there are too many powers to be brought out and too little 
time to bring them out, and some powers which we hope nobody 
will ever bring out. If there is a demand for stenographers, 
which means that there are good positions to be filled, there 
remains the task of finding out whether some of the children are 
incapable of doing the work; and as psychology is now practiced, 
this is a psychological question. But whether there should be 
stenographers and whether stenography belongs in the curriculum 
is perhaps a subject which psychology would not attempt to 

Professor Snedden has written at length and very clearly on 
this aspect of educational sociology, and there is now a clear 
recognition that the group demands must be considered in 
deciding what shall go into the course of study. A caution has 
repeatedly been expressed, and most properly, that the groups 
are not necessarily fixed, in either membership or their traditions. 
The word " group" must be defined with reasonable elasticity; 
but if the concept be sufficiently protected from misapprehension, 
it seems fairly clear that the first place to look for an answer to 
this question is in the customs and traditions, the activities and 
the cultural attitudes, of the group, or community, or society. 


Here we seem to be on sociological ground, but appearances 
after all may be a bit deceptive. If the culture be homogenous 
and consistent, the sociologist is entirely redundant. He does 
not need to make an inventory of the mores because everybody 
knows them sufficiently anyhow. If the culture be highly com- 
plex, with divergent and conflicting mores and institutional 
interests, the sociologist would seem to be more in place. But 
is he? Consider the problem of military training. One group 
is thoroughly committed to it and another group violently 
opposed. Who can decide? The sociologist might attempt to 
state the effect of military training on the national psychology, 
but so far the struggles and debates on this question have taken 
the form of rather violent emotional controversies between 
specific interest groups, with the usual number of interested 
neutrals which form the "public," and an even larger number of 
indifferent people who are not aware of the issue. Such a ques- 
tion then becomes either a philosophical and ethical controversy 
or a political struggle, and the sociologist's task is the more 
objective one of studying dispassionately the whole movement 
and concluding what he can. The educational sociologist is 
rapidly making us conscious that our former na'ivet6 was unjus- 
tified. It has been assumed that education would solve our 
social problems; but we now know that education can be manipu- 
lated by special groups and will tend to produce a result which 
a particular group will approve but which other groups may 
regard as disastrous. The Bolsheviks in Russia and the Fascists 
in Italy furnish the most dramatic examples, but there are many 
less spectacular pictures of it nearer home. It would seem, there- 
fore, that the claim that the curriculum can be decided by the 
methods of the sociologist must be made with certain reservations. 

The curriculum having, by whatever methods, been decided 
upon, there remains the technical question of how the preparation 
for the activities can be obtained most economically and thor- 
oughly. The work of Charters in vocational analysis, suggested 
doubtless by the Taylor movement in job analysis, is both familiar 
and relevant. The recent work that has appeared in the tech- 
nique of teaching spelling or reading and the rest, along with the 
tests of proficiency of an objective sort, are for the most part at 
least superficially independent of sociology and its interests. 
Nevertheless there is a point here which often escapes attention 


and deserves more serious study than it has received. The 
question concerns the social situation inside the schoolroom and 
the group relations that unite the pupils with each other and with 
the teacher. Instruction in groups is never individual instruc- 
tion, and the study of group morale, esprit de corps, and reprt- 
sentations collectives, must receive more attention than they have 
been accorded before the problems in this field can be worked 
out. There lies a distinct fallacy at least the sociologists would 
say so in much that has been said about individualized instruc- 
tion. The pupil in school may be an individual and he may be 
treated as an individual, but in addition to this he is a member 
of a group and may be treated as a member, and there is a differ- 
ence between a member as member and an individual as individ- 
ual. There is no doubt that sociology here has a real contribution 
to make to teachers. There is abundant evidence that unwise 
emphasis on competition does exist, and unnecessary feelings of 
inferiority are produced through sheer ignorance of the laws of 
group behavior on the part of well-meaning and earnest teachers. 

But there remains still another aspect of education of the high- 
est important about which the sociologist has perhaps more to 
say than any other specialist. This is the field of moral training 
and character education, conceived, not in the restricted meaning 
which some " religious education " specialists give to it, but in 
the broader sense of participation in the moral and cultural 
attitudes of the society which has produced the children and 
which will in a few years be composed of them. To some of us 
sociologists the performances of most of our schools in this respect 
are very deficient and often utterly lamentable. High-school 
faculties and boards of education pass regulations about lipsticks 
and skirt lengths, cigarettes and fraternities. The results are 
known everywhere. A concrete instance: A high-school senior 
said to an investigator, "The ambition of many a boy in this 
school is to get his diploma in his hand and then walk up to the 
principal and tell him to go to hell." We all know to what extent 
the moral and social ideals of the teachers in the high school (to 
go no further) are matters of contemptuous indifference to the 
students under their care. 

To the sociologist this is serious, regrettable, and almost 
entirely unnecessary. It concerns a theoretical formulation of 
the nature of group activity, the forms of social control, and 


different types of primary groups, the intrusion into the primary 
group of institutional controls that do not belong there, much 
of which has been already worked out, though many things need 
to be made the subject of further research. An examination of 
the best books on education reveals that there is much material 
on the methods of punishment but no hint that such groups might 
be better controlled without any punishment at all. The pathetic 
and sometimes stupid device of "student government," which is 
often a despairing gesture on the part of the responsible adults 
in the group who turn over to the immature members burdens 
too heavy to be borne and burdens which the older ones are paid 
to assume, is one of the many concrete illustrations of the failure 
to take advantage of what sociology can teach. It is worse than 
this, for they not only have not learned what is known, they are 
not aware that a problem exists. 

The teachers should be the channels through which the highest 
ideals of a people are transmitted to the children of the nation, 
but, owing to many causes, the channel is blocked, the children 
are alienated, and out of this situation grows a phenomenon not 
peculiar to our day but very characteristic of it. The adolescent 
clique, the boys' gang, the high-school fraternity and sorority, 
sociologically speaking, are little clans of aliens shut off from 
adequate contact with the best traditions of their people. 

Educational sociology has not found itself, and its conceptions 
are extremely varied. The confusion is natural but by no means 
final, and the widespread interest in the subject is symptomatic of 
the need for another approach in the solution of our problems. 
It is to be hoped that educators on the one hand and sociologists 
on the other will not only be aware of each other's problems, but 
will also come, if not to speak, at least to understand, each other's 


This discussion deals with the relation of the teacher to the 
community and to the children under instruction. It is hoped 
to offer a view not too unorthodox concerning two problems on 
which light could be thrown by an adequate sociology. Teachers 
like to speak freely and often find their freedom restricted. 
They like to have their pupils follow the highest moral ideals 
and are often disappointed. Are there any known sociological 
principles that will throw light on the nature of these two prob- 
lems or that will aid in their practical solution? 

We wish our children to be taught those things that we want 
them to know. We resent being compelled to send our children 
to teachers who will influence them in ways distasteful to us. 
Our laws permit a Roman Catholic parent to reject a secular 
school and choose a religious one so that the instruction imparted 
may be in accordance with his convictions. In Fascist Italy, 
in Bolshevik Russia, and in Nazi Germany every teacher must 
be loyal to an approved philosophy of life and government. 
This seems very foreign to American ways of thinking, but the 
difference is very slight and only a matter of degree, due perhaps 
to the relatively peaceful conditions under which we yet live. 

Education, at least in schools, is for the purpose of transmit- 
ting to our children our social heritage. The school is a channel, 
an aqueduct through which our culture is transmitted to those 
who are to inherit it. Therefore what is taught in the schools 
is of vital concern to those who have set them up and who pay 
for carrying them on. If the teachers teach what the community 
regards as unwholesome, the community cannot avoid protest 
and opposition. 

The content of the teaching is in the hands of professional men 
and women who are skilled to impart and who are representatives 
of that level of culture which the community has attained. The 
teacher is no private individual, free to say or to do anything he 



may choose according to his whim. He is a trusted public official, 
standing in some respect in loco parentis, trained at public 
expense, chosen for a public service, and maintained at great 
financial sacrifice. The mores set limits to what he may appro- 
priately do or say in his capacity as a teacher. 

It will probably not be questioned by any sociologist that the 
mores constitute an impersonal force, never clearly formulated, 
always appearing as true and right, not open to debate, and not 
to be consciously and purposefully set up or deliberately modi- 
fied. The mores change, but slowly and almost unconsciously. 
To offend against the mores is to ensure opposition and conflict. 
To argue that the mores are untenable and that the people who 
hold to them are illogical is to confess ignorance of a fundamental 
sociological truth. A young teacher was interrupted in his 
remarks by a girl who objected that what he had said contradicted 
the Bible and who quoted the passage about woman being made 
from Adam's rib. He answered in a sneering manner: " Nobody 
believes that stuff any more." His biology was undoubtedly 
sound, but his knowledge of the sociology of the mores was 
defective. He was sent to Coventry for the rest of the year and 
not asked to teach any more. 

The question of the freedom of the teacher and his obligation 
to the community is one aspect of the question of the relation 
of the individual to society. Even the university research pro- 
fessor is not an isolated individual responsible only to himself. 
He is a favored and fortunate appointee, subsidized financially 
so that he need do no economically productive labor, and per- 
mitted to subsist on the surplus of the work of other men. His 
very freedom is a gift of society, a society which trusts him and 
expects some return on the investment they have made in training 
and sustaining him. 

For the individual apart from society is a meaningless abstrac- 
tion. Human life is always essentially dramatic in the sense 
that we are assigned to roles which we are to play after the man- 
ner of characters on the stage. The role of a teacher is none the 
less a role because the lines are not written out in detail and 
formally agreed to, or the details of behavior minutely prescribed. 
As a member of the school system he has obligations and duties 
as well as rights of self-expression and freedom. He who keeps 
in mind that he is the product of an institution and the beneficiary 


of society will be able to subordinate his private notions, however 
dear, to the public good and the public peace. However informal 
the expectation may be, the prestige of the office is a public trust. 

Nor does this principle imply any danger to truth or any 
disloyalty which might be involved in its suppression. For 
truth, if it is fully known, can be proved. And if it is fully 
proved there is small danger that it will be rejected. Not truth, 
but unproved and unprovable opinion is the usual cause of con- 
flict, And we must confess that in social science the body of 
demonstrated truth is much smaller than the total of untested 
opinions. Those who are most zealous in the cause of academic 
freedom could do the cause no greater service than to insist on 
the validity of the distinction. 

The relation of the teacher to his community is, therefore, 
that of a representative whose function it is to induct the young 
into the social heritage which the community values. He need 
not be an average member, indeed, he may well be somewhat in 
advance of those who have chosen him. But, if he has wisdom, 
he will not scorn the mores. To do so is to invite trouble and to 
display at the same time an unfamiliarity with a sound sociologi- 
cal principle. 

If now we turn to the relation of the teacher to the child, it 
would appear that the figure of the aqueduct is appropriate here 
also. For skill in figuring or reading does harm rather than 
good to the community unless the attitudes which the community 
approves are also imparted and strengthened. We cannot avoid 
the ethical results in the process of education. The teacher is 
neither a preacher nor a social worker, but unless the school is 
able to transmit approved attitudes the nation will not prosper. 
Struggles between the state and the church in Italy, in Germany, 
in France, and in other countries show the importance which is 
attached to the schools, especially the lower schools. In Ameri- 
can experience the issues have never been formulated in opposi- 
tion. Rather have the traditions that the school is to transmit 
remained unformulated, that is to say, "in the mores." But we 
desire our children to adopt the moral and social views that we 
regard as important and valuable, and the school is expected to 
do its part and a very large part in making clear and definite 
and appealing the basic attitudes which are the foundation of 
good citizenship. 


That the task is partially accomplished, no one will deny; that 
it is done as well as it should be, no one will contend. Juvenile 
delinquency is not to be laid wholly at the door of the school any 
more than it is to be charged up to the church or the family, 
But the school has its share of responsibility and much improve- 
ment needs to be made. Has sociology any contribution to 
make to the analysis of the difficulty or the working out of a 
better method? 

It would seem that the theory of the primary group should 
be of value. For it is in those groups and associations, where 
there is face-to-face association and cooperation, a sense of the 
whole, and a conscious feeling of "we" that we may discover 
the specifically human qualities actually taking their rise. It 
is as a member of a primary group that the virtues appear and 
become conscious, and it is from the members of the primary 
group that attitudes are taken over. Now it is an interesting 
fact that, while a child can hardly become a member of an adult 
group, the contrary is not true. An adult can become a bona fide 
member of a group of children. And attitudes are tender plants 
and will grow only in a favorable climate. They cannot be 
forced. Severity is fatal and aloofness futile. It is necessary to 
form a primary group and to keep some measure of this relation 
if the school is to succeed in this important function. Any pro- 
cedure which alienates the teacher from the group or tends to 
limit the relation to one of authority and external power results 
in clogging the aqueduct and impeding the transfer of the culture. 

In American kindergarten practice this relation is set up and 
maintained with the most fortunate results. Attitudes are 
recommended and accepted and the influence of the teacher is 
at a maximum. In the American high school there is a great 
contrast. Open hostility is not common; and rebellion, though 
not known, is not usual. The typical result is the externaliz- 
ing of the teacher, followed by the formation of primary groups 
composed exclusively of adolescents, often with a tradition at 
variance with that of the community and a minimum of access 
to the experience and judgment of the mature members of society 
of which they stand in need, but which they cannot have. 

The relative complacency of the public and the school authori- 
ties is due, perhaps, to the conviction of the inevitability of this 
break between old and young. The out-dated notions formu- 


lated in the days when the recapitulation theory of human devel- 
opment was dominant still survive. The adolescent is thought 
to be passing through a period of storm and stress when it is 
natural and inevitable that he should rebel against authority. 
But some sociologists at least are convinced that the cordial, close, 
and even intimate relation with which the teacher starts in the 
primary grades could be kept unbroken and would be unaltered 
if the nature of the primary group were clearly grasped and the 
discipline of the schools altered to correspond with this knowledge. 

But whether this is the key or not, there is surely a key to the 
difficulty. If it is not now known, then it should be discovered. 
There is hardly a more important problem in our American life. 
If we could have a single generation of children brought up to 
know our mores and to adopt them there would be a new nation, 
happier and better than we have known. Juvenile delinquency 
has many and varied causes, but one important source which 
contributes to the unwanted result is the spiritual isolation 
between young people and their elders. It is the contention 
here that the break is artificial and abnormal. It is not doubted 
that we are given the confidence and allegiance of the children 
to start with. It is uncontrovertible that we usually lose it to 
a large degree. It is arguable that the bond is never broken in 
the first instance by the child but rather by the erroneous pro- 
cedure of the adults. 

Whether we have found the solution is not so important. 
What is important is that the problem should be recognized as 
a problem. It is a problem for sociology and particularly for 
that branch of sociology known as social psychology. More 
investigation is needed before we can announce positive conclu- 
sions or issue definite programs. But surely the question of the 
effective and beneficent discipline of our children in our schools 
is a practical problem of the highest importance and one toward 
which the sociologist should be expected to make a contribution. 

To fail to make the child know and accept the best ideals of 
his people is to deprive him of his rights. And just as the teacher 
who is limited in his freedom of expression feels that he has a right 
to protest, so the children who have been brought to withdraw 
from their elders or to rebel against them have a grievance none 
the less real because it was unconsciously inflicted and uncon- 
sciously suffered. 


The children of preliterate people are more wisely reared than 
ours. The primary group attitude is always present and the 
channel of communication from old to young is ever open. The 
result is, at least in those most carefully studied on this point, 
that they can hardly be said to have a period of adolescence at 
all. Physical and sexual maturity is a matter of anatomy, but 
adolescence is a stage between childhood and maturity. Pre- 
literates are so well integrated that the transition is from child- 
hood to the responsibilities and fellowship of the mature. The 
" young people " do not rebel against the elders because there 
are no "young people. " A boy who has been initiated into the 
society of men is no longer a boy but fully a man. And since 
the discipline of childhood is so kindly and so wise, there is an 
absence of the break which seems characteristic of all civilized 

We have a much more difficult task than any primitive com- 
munity. They tend to dislike change and succeed in discourag- 
ing it. Yet much could be learned from a careful comparative 
study of their discipline. But whether we get the cue from pre- 
literates or whether we work it out by studying and experiment- 
ing, it will, it is to be hoped, be recognized as a vitally important 


One of my early childhood recollections is of a conversation 
between two prominent members of the church of which my 
father was pastor, whose remarks I was not expected to overhear. 
Said one Christian woman to the other, "You should be glad 
you did not go to church today, for if you had been there you 
would have been forced to shake hands with a Negro to whom 
we gave the right hand of fellowship." The Negro had given 
his heart to God, professed his faith in Jesus as the son of God, 
showed evidence of a change of heart and life, and had asked to 
be identified with the Christian church whose principles included 
the universal brotherhood of all mankind and repudiated all 
distinctions of "Jew or Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free." 
The puzzled pastor had received this newly regenerated soul, but 
in the sequel, the treatment met made the relation unsatisfactory, 
and the black sheep left the fold. Today in the same community 
such an applicant for membership would be very rare, but if a case 
did occur, the pastor would know how to reject him in a Christian 
spirit and instruct him to postpone to the next world any program 
of associating intimately with his brothers in Christ. 

Now there is nothing in the New Testament which commands 
or even justifies the current practice of race separation and race 
discrimination or race segregation. Nevertheless, a wise religious 
leader is forced to conform to current usages, and everyone, white 
or black, understands the necessity of it. The reason for this is 
perfectly clear to the sociologist. In present-day America race 
separation is in the mores. 

We understand by the mores the ways of doing things that are 
current in a society, together with the faiths, codes, and standards 
of well-being which inhere in these ways. The mores come to 
be the expression of the specific character of a society or of a 
period. They are to be sharply distinguished from the institu- 
tions and laws, although they grow into institutions and laws 



which, in turn, may greatly affect the mores. The chief distinc- 
tion is that the mores are unwittingly created by the masses of 
the people as they meet the problems of their own lives. We 
do not even become conscious of our mores until we are led to 
consider the customs of another people or those of a different age. 
There are societies that have infanticide in the mores. The 
Ibibio of Nigeria always put twins to death immediately after 
their birth. In Greece, infanticide was in the mores and in the 
case of weak or deformed children was considered a sacred public 
duty. Our own attitude toward infanticide goes to the opposite 
extreme, and whole institutions are devoted to the tender care 
of helpless idiots whose prospects of development are admittedly 

One important characteristic of the mores is their moral defen- 
sibility. The mores are always right, and any agitation to change 
them is always futile. The Greeks made eugenic arguments for 
their practice of infanticide, but such agitation in our age and 
among our people gets nowhere. We are unable to criticize our 
mores because they have become an integral part of our view of 
life and the world. 

If the mores change, they change slowly, and the alteration 
is never due to individual initiative. Here there is no place for 
the theory of the great man. When the mores have been under- 
mined by the indirect and impersonal forces, some leader may 
give the coup de grace, but he is only striking the last blow of a 
long series which others have delivered. 

Among our own people, in the Middle Ages and somewhat 
later there was no opposition to brothels, and witchcraft was 
accepted as a reality by all. On the other hand, it was against 
the mores to take interest for money. We could not conceive of 
a Christian banker being called to account in our day for refusing 
to lend money on inadequate security, and yet for ages Christian 
people regarded it as a sin. It was John Calvin who gave the 
sanction to Protestants, but Calvin was only expressing a change 
in the mores which had been going on quietly for a long time. 

The mores, then, present a perfect example of an impersonal 
and collective phenomenon which individual members of a society 
take in as they inhale the very atmosphere they breathe. For 
the people who accept uncritically the mores, and every people 
does and has always done so, are never the people who have 


created them. The mores are always the result of the life of the 
past, and thus they appeal to us as being natural and normal, 
old and established, right and true. 

A perfect analogy exists in the mother tongue which all of us 
have come to speak. We had no individual preference for the 
English language; we possessed no more inherited facility to 
speak it than French or Russian or Chinese, and yet we have come 
to express our thoughts in these words and carry on our communi- 
cation in English phrases. We did not create the English tongue, 
nor did any man invent it. Moreover, the English language is 
changing and has always changed. There is hardly a single 
English word that is not wrong from the standpoint of the Anglo- 
Saxon speech from which it grew. Yet no one planned these 
changes, and few were aware of what was happening; so also 
with the mores. 

A generation or so ago, in response to a crisis in our national 
life, America became a world power. In this way we differ from 
Switzerland, for example. Now, when the people of a nation 
have become a world power, they feel that they have the right 
to a voice in anything that happens anywhere in the world, 
whether it be in China, Samoa, or Central America. The result 
is that we have become more belligerent; we demand a navy 
second to none. We have a general staff preparing elaborate 
plans, euphemistically called defense plans, against Japan, Eng- 
land, or any possible enemy. The Daughters of the American 
Revolution or the convention of the American Legion find abun- 
dant support for this attitude. A Quaker president, whose 
religion has historically insisted on non-resistance, repeatedly 
announced the policy that we should make ourselves strong on 
sea and land. 

Our mores are changing, and no one can find a man who is 
responsible, since there is no man who has brought about the 
change. It has grown up in the life of our people. 

The study of the mores is important for leaders in education 
and in religion, for these forces in the mores are continually 
acting to modify the work of the church and of the school. Poly- 
gamy is not in our mores, and anyone who argues for polygamy 
among us may be said to waste his breadth. Divorce is different. 
It is unquestionably in the mores. The church has stood against 
divorce, but the pressure of the mores to modify this attitude is 


everywhere apparent, and the resulting change in the attitude 
of Christians can confidently be prophesied. 

The mores of the Puritans forbade dancing, gambling, card 
playing and the theater. Slowly, but progressively, the attitudes 
and practices of the church on this question have been modified. 
Many a city protestant church has a dance in the building 
every Friday night and periodical bridge parties where the 
members indulge in this form of physical culture. Several depart- 
ments in the Y. M. C. A. in Chicago are not only provided with 
billiard tables, which entered in several years ago, but permit 
card playing and smoking, and some provide dances, always, of 
course, properly chaperoned. The reasons for the change are 
interesting but not easy to obtain with certainty. The men who 
are responsible for the change will always have reasons, but they 
are apt to be rationalizations; that is, they are good reasons, 
though not the real reasons. From the standpoint of a larger 
theory of society, the phenomenon is an extension of the mores 
which are gradually adopted by those who opposed them. 

We may, therefore, emphasize the three outstanding character- 
istics of the mores : their non-rationality, their irresistibility, and 
their continuously changing character. 

The mores are not arrived at by reasoning. Since we acquire 
the habits which the mores prescribe, the result of participating 
in the life of our people, they come without reasoning and before 
reasoning. If challenged, we may be counted on to defend the 
mores, but another people will be just as logical or just as illog- 
ical in their defense of the opposite type of action. If we were 
asked to give a reason why a man owes his first duty to his wife 
as against his parents, we should at first be puzzled, but could 
soon find justification for our own beliefs and practices. Yet 
there are peoples where the very opposite view prevails, and it 
is held to be the only conceivable way in which the matter should 
be viewed, and the arguments which they make will be equally 
strong. But since the mores are non-rational in origin, the rea- 
sons advanced seem naive and unconvincing to those who have 
inherited a different tradition. For neither we nor they have 
arrived at our custom by any scientific or rational process. The 
mores of a people are always a slow and unconscious growth and 
are able to make any custom seem right or to prevent the con- 
demnation of anything. 


Consider the attitude toward punishment which prevails 
among our people in our day. It seems to be a part of the moral 
order of the universe that a man who commits a felony should 
be sentenced to a lifetime of brutal treatment and deprived of 
all his rights as a human being. We know that it makes of him a 
wreck, a caricature of humanity. Moreover, the effect on the 
lives of those who guard and herd and punish him is always unfor- 
tunate. The time may come when Americans will regard this 
practice of ours with the same feelings which we have when we 
recall the treatment meted out a century ago to the insane, but 
neither the change we now see in the latter case nor the possible 
change that may come in penal administration could result from 
a sudden adoption of a rational plan, for punishment is now in 
the mores. Those who advocate the abolition of punishment 
altogether, and such advocates exist, receive but a negligible 
response from our people. This is not because they are wrong, 
for it is difficult to defend punishment from a rational point of 
view that it does not deter and does not reform but since we 
have nothing else to put in its place our people will not tolerate 
any suggestion to do away with it. Punishment is in the mores. 
The mores are non-rational, therefore, in the sense that the habits 
and sentiments are received by us all in a way and at a time when 
we are uncritically receptive. 

The second characteristic to be emphasized is the irresistibility 
of the mores. They coerce individuals. This is not invariably 
true, but it is always true where the mores lack competition. 
Primitive men believe in magic, not because it works, but in spite 
of the fact that often it does not work. The mores make us 
impermeable to experience. The patriotism which our schools 
and churches inculcate into our children is responsible for the 
widespread sentiment that America never has done any wrong. 
When men are living in a community where the mores are domin- 
ant, they can neither resist nor criticize. It has been said that 
any one of us would have sentenced the Salem witches to death 
had we sat on the bench in the days when that custom was 
dominant. In such a situation there is no point of support for 
any opposing view. If the mores command us, we will obey 
without knowing we are commanded; we will trust the dictum 
in the mores in spite of the evidence of our own senses. When 
Joan of Arc reported her conversation with the angels, everyone 


believed that she had seen them. But were angels from heaven 
to descend into this room at this moment, we should not believe; 
we should probably look for the cords and pulleys; failing to find 
them, most of us would remain unconvinced. Such beliefs are 
no longer in the mores, and so we cannot have them. When 
they were in the mores, our fathers could not resist them. Our 
only chance to be critical is given us when there is some choice 
between one formulation of the mores which contradicts another. 
If one wants to be an independent thinker, he should arrange to 
be born on a cultural frontier. In that case, if he does not become 
disorganized or cynically skeptical, he may approach a rational 

In the third place, the mores are mutable. Living within 
them, we may not see the change, and we may not be conscious 
of their history; but they are never wholly fixed, and sometimes 
a great crisis will work a rapid transformation. Ideas on birth 
control have been gradually making headway among us, and 
economic forces of our time will probably bring it about that even 
in the Catholic church the change will be recognized and adopted. 
If this takes place, we may expect theologians to defend the new 
custom as skillfully as they now show its undesirability. The 
important consideration is the impersonality and the indirect 
nature of the forces which make the mores change. They change 
as our language changes, as the fashions change, and often we are 
not aware of the change until after it has occurred. 

If now we inquire into the relation of the mores to religion and 
to religious education, we will find this relation more intimate 
than might at first be suspected. The historian of religion traces 
the changing conceptions of theology, the changing conceptions 
of God, of Christ and His work, and of the nature of the church 
and religion itself. These changes have been many and impor- 
tant. It was Carlyle who said that no man worships the God of 
his grandfather, meaning, of course, that the conception men have 
of God is undergoing continuous alteration. 

But whence come these changes? Why is it that we reject a 
God who, before the foundation of the world, predestined a 
certain number of people to everlasting life and a certain unalter- 
able and far greater number to everlasting punishment in a fiery 
hell? The historian tends to select some influential writer who 
has formulated the new conception. It would be truer to say 


that the change was due to the mores, and when the moral ideals 
of a people have undergone a gradual change, the formulation 
of the church comes later to reflect this new view in its creeds. 
The atonement of Christ was once thought of as a commercial 
transaction in which Christ paid with his life the debt due from 
a bankrupt community. There was another time when men 
thought of the death of Christ as a ransom paid to the devil, who, 
in the war he had been waging against God, was almost victorious 
and who thus secured the release of the souls in prison. The 
explanation lies in the mores of the time. In a commercial age 
Jesus paid the debt, in a military era he was a ransom. It is 
not merely that the figures of speech and imagery were provided 
by the life of the time, it is far more than this. The very concep- 
tion of right and wrong is different in different ages, and the mores 
of a people are crystallized in the convictions of the church. 

Someone has called theology transcendentalized politics. It 
would be equally true to speak of theological beliefs as the ideal- 
ized mores of an earlier time. 

Sometimes it is charged that the adaptations, like those earlier 
referred to, in which the church or the Christian association makes 
a concession to the desires and customs of the young people, are 
objectionable because they represent a concession to evil and a 
surrender of conviction. This seems a superficial statement. 
Christian young people are allowed to dance or play bridge when 
the mores have changed so as to approve of these practices, or 
at the least to regard them as innocuous. The church has never 
successfully stood out against the mores of any age or any people. 

If we were to leave the subject here, we should not only be 
greatly misunderstood, but we should be guilty of a serious error. 
The early sociologists who formulated the doctrine of the mores 
did stop here, and with grievous consequences to the clarity of 
their thought and the lasting value of their work. They knew 
that the mores were strong and that individuals had no power 
against them, and they made the natural mistake of assuming 
that we were helpless in our effort to guide our life and were 
condemned to wait for the tides and to drift without a rudder 
whither the currents should lead us. 

This error, natural as it was, neglected the important aspect 
of the possibility of choice where the mores are complex. And 
in a great and populous country like America the mores are always 


complex. It is untrue to say that the drinking of intoxicants is 
in the mores of the American people. It is very true that for 
large groups the mores permit and encourage the drinking of 
alcohol. It is equally true that for other areas and groups the 
drinking of alcohol is not in the mores. This has been true of 
whole populations, such as the Mohammedans. At a time when 
these two conceptions of life conflict and men are called upon to 
engage in strenuous campaigns for one side or the other of such a 
question, the whole irrationality and irresistibility may tend to 
disappear, and we may come to have the power to foresee the 
consequences and to make our decisions according to some 
alternative which we regard as offering the more desirable con- 
sequences. We may resist the mores at any point if we are pre- 
sented with an alternative organization. Our habits are strong, 
but they can be reorganized. 

The necessity of taking into account what the sociologist knows 
about the mores is nowhere more apparent than in the work of 
the foreign missionaries. The attitude of the typical missionary 
is one of a naive acceptance of the mores of his own people and a 
confusion of the essentials of the Christian message with the 
non-essential customs with which he has all his life been familiar. 
The unconscious assumption that the native culture can be 
completely displaced by the culture of his own people has led 
to results which at some times have been mildly troublesome 
and in other cases have been rather thoroughly disorganizing. 
The work of the missionary will always result in a fusion or 
syncretism of culture elements. To uproot completely the 
native culture is impossible. The problem of what to conserve 
and what to discourage always presents itself, and a failure to 
state it in these terms may result in relative failure. 

One group I knew well produced an unexpected commotion 
and almost a revolt because they insisted on the native Christians 
in Africa cutting their hair short. They had anticipated no 
objection but found the change to be accompanied by deep- 
seated emotional resistance. Not finding a convenient way to 
retreat, they finally won, but the result was not advantageous 
to the enterprise they were carrying on. 

At another time the same group excommunicated a native 
Christian for allowing his relatives to give him a customary 
treatment of hot baths, on the ground that all native medical 


measures must be rigorously opposed. On a third occasion a 
native chief was left to die without the attendance of the medical 
missionary because his people insisted on some supplementary 
native treatments. In this latter case the whole village was so 
shocked that the station was actually abandoned. 

This failure to recognize and deal with the mores produces 
repeatedly an interesting cycle. The people who accept the new 
doctrines and customs find it interesting and satisfying, but the 
mores of a people are so strong in their hold on the affections and 
habits that there appears regularly a period of repercussion and 
reaction when those who passively tolerated the new doctrine 
become active in their opposition. The factors in the Protestant 
religious situation in South Africa are too complicated to be dis- 
posed of by a single formula, but I venture to express with confi- 
dence the opinion that the widespread revolt and consequent 
isolation of the native church from all white leadership, which 
in my opinion is almost a tragedy, could have been avoided had 
the missionaries taken into account from the beginning of their 
work the phenomenon of the mores and avoided the unnecessary 
conflicts. I do not presume to utter a prophecy with regard to 
what is happening in Central Africa, which is a later chapter in 
the missionary effort, but it is certainly not beyond the bounds 
of possibility that the methods now being employed there will 
eventually produce a native revolt quite according to the pattern 
of the South African church. This phenomenon of disregard of 
the mores, with the above-mentioned results, is not confined to 
Africa but can be made out in many other parts of the mission 

Nor does the position here taken lack a certain interesting 
confirmation when compared with the methods of the Roman 
Catholic missionaries. Protestants tend to be contemptuous at 
times when speaking of these methods, referring to the product of 
their work as a certain compromise with heathenism. Undoubt- 
edly this is true, but the stability of the native Catholic church 
is the reward that this compromise has received. Moreover, the 
logic of this discussion would insist that to a certain degree com- 
promise is inevitable and should, therefore, be conscious and 
deliberate. This syncretism has always and everywhere taken 
place. The etymology of the word " Easter" is familiar to all 
scholars, and if the word "Easter" occurs in the New Testament 


it is only because the heathen goddess of spring had been baptized 
into the Christian church long before the translation appeared. 
We are perfectly comfortable with the heathen evergreen tree 
ceremony at Christmas time, nor are we disturbed by Easter 
eggs or even Easter rabbits. Yet these are examples of the way 
in which the mores of our fathers were tolerated and revalued 
by those who brought Christianity to them. 

The mores always seem right if they are old, but they are not 
always right, and when the mores are in conflict with other mores 
their Tightness is no longer unquestioned. Religious leaders are 
not to be passive when confronted by undesirable mores, but a 
knowledge of how the impersonal customs of a people are changed 
would greatly add to the efficiency of any effort to transform 

Religion is rational and individual in its critical points. In 
other areas, religion is social and emotional. Religious educa- 
tion seems to differ fundamentally from education in arithmetic. 
A knowledge of the mores will bring new appreciation of the 
place of ritual in the life of a people. Our children are given to 
us in a plastic and receptive condition. We cannot hope to 
carry on our culture in its essential aspects by an emphasis on 
problems or the assumption that little children should reason out 
carefully the ultimate values of life. Rather is it ours to choose 
the accepted formulations of our culture and, with modesty and 
humility, but with earnestness and devotion, strive to introduce 
into our common life the immature members as they come on. 
The mores do not lose their character as mores when they become 

To understand these things should help us to acquire two very 
valuable virtues, sympathy for others when they follow mores 
which we do not accept, and modesty in our own attitude toward 
ourselves, our beliefs, and our practices. And since so much of 
our life is determined by the mores of our fathers and so much of 
our own history has been forgotten, we are far less responsible 
for what we believe and teach than we sometimes assume. Our 
originality is often the result of a defective memory. 


There was a time when no psychologist would have been inter- 
ested in the question of the fundamental motives of children or 
their instinctive drives or tendencies. Within the memory of 
some very old men still living it was the accepted postulate of 
psychology that the child mind was like a blank sheet of clean 
paper on which could be written whatever fair words a wise 
teacher might choose to indite. It was the doctrine of evolution 
which chiefly destroyed this formulation and brought into prom- 
inence, some forty years ago, an entirely different conception. 
It became clear, and still is almost universally accepted, that 
action and emotional urges are anterior to thought and reason 
processes. No child ever passively receives the instruction of 
his teacher. On the contrary, he acts before he ever thinks and 
when he thinks it is normally because he wants to act. And this 
led to the doctrine of instincts. 

Ten years ago the position was unchallenged that the pictur- 
esque repertoire of instincts easily described in the wasp, the ant, 
and the bee were present in even greater variety in the human 
animal, not at birth necessarily, for nestlings do not fly, but com- 
plete at the age of adolescence. This list of instincts was the 
foundation on which secular education and religious education 
were urged to build. But at present we are not so sure. The 
emphasis is again placed on plasticity and modifiability, and 
human instincts are impossible to describe in terms of anything 
which human beings do. All that is left of the maternal instinct, 
for example, even with those who argue strenuously for the 
retention of this adolescent tendency, is a feeling or "heart 
hunger" which never presents itself in any uniform expression. 
There has arisen the generalization that, if we arrange animals 
in a series, the instincts vary inversely as the educability. The 
bees are moved almost wholly by instinct but no successful efforts 
at training them are on record. Our children are of all the 



animals the most amenable to training and their specific instinc- 
tive equipment is, to say the least, inferior to that of any other 

The food habits and preferences may help to make the matter 
concrete. The wild animals have " natural" foods. The zool- 
ogist can tell you what constitutes the food of the rabbit, the 
wolf, the eagle, and the whale. But the zoologist cannot tell 
you what constitutes the food of man. Apparently there is no 
natural food for man and if there ever was we have lost the clue. 
If one wants to know what a human being eats, he must appeal 
to the sociologist or the anthropologist. Human hunger is a 
physiological discomfort; human appetite is a cultural fact. 
The gusto with which the Eskimo sits down tho is raw meat and 
bloody bones must be contrasted with the appetite for a vegetable 
diet of the Hindu, who turns away from refined sugar in disgust 
because it has been clarified by filtration through animal charcoal. 
John the Baptist never ate a ham sandwich, but most of us would 
say that he was welcome to his diet of grasshoppers. The western 
Indians regarded fish as poison, and the cannibal tribes of the 
world have been very numerous. In the matter of food, no dieti- 
tian presumes to ask what original tendencies or motives or drives 
of the infant are to be considered. 

To come closer to our subject, let us consider the extraordinary 
diversity of religious allegiance, belief, and practice. Is it incred- 
ible to believe that if children are taken early enough it would 
be possible to bring up any normal group of them as Catholics, 
or as Lutherans, as Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, or atheists? 
John Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell had atheistic parents 
whose wishes were followed out in producing the conviction of 
atheism in the minds of both of these gifted men. Is it unreason- 
able to assume that Saint Francis or Pope Pius under similar 
circumstances would have been atheists? For generations the 
Moslem conquerors in the Balkans demanded a toll from their 
Christian subjects, systematically taking their young boys and 
turning them into the fanatical Mohammedan Janizaries. 
Whatever their instinctive drives or motives or tendencies were, 
these children responded to the cultural formulation in which 
they found themselves. The human child is characterized by 
educability, and religiously he is capable of fitting into an infinite 
variety of cultural molds. 


Now, if we inquire into the reason of all this, the first considera- 
tion is that culture precedes the individual. This statement 
may offer difficulties as thus phrased, but in the matter of religious 
education it offers no difficulty. What I mean is that the church 
is older than our children and the moral life which we admire 
and the principles of conduct which we hold dear have their 
structural formulation before the child has any interest in it. 
Moral and religious education, then, must be thought of as a 
process of transmitting a cultural heritage to the immature mem- 
bers of a society in order that they may carry it on, be true to it, 
and of course improve it. 

For it must not be forgotten that we ourselves are the children 
of our age. The fact that we revise our conceptions must not 
disguise the more important truth that we worship the God of 
our fathers. No one would entertain seriously the suggestion 
that we should present the child with objectively scientific 
accounts of all the religions in the world so that he might make a 
free and voluntary choice. Who would be sufficient for these 
things ? Protestantism, Catholicism, the Greek orthodox society, 
the seventy-two Mohammedan sects, Hinduism, Buddhism, Con- 
fucianism, and Taoism, these do not more than begin the list, 
and to make the suggestion that a child should have an impartial 
presentation of all these and the rest would be to run the risk of 
appearing facetious. In our effort not to impose on the person- 
ality of children we must not lose sight of the fact that we are 
the heirs of a religious heritage with the obligation to transmit it. 

The central psychological aspect of religious education is not 
proof and demonstration but loyalty or allegiance. Children 
are growing and are eager to grow, and one way in which they love 
to grow is to become members of the company in which are found 
the older people whom they admire. The truth of Buddhism as 
over against Mohammedanism cannot be investigated according 
to the canons of laboratory science. 

And here we must make mention of the current survival of 
intellectualism which emphasizes situations and involves an 
obsession concerning " problems. 1 ' The resulting ideal is the 
familiar "discussion group." Now life has problems in plenty 
and our children have more than their share. Moreover, these 
problems are important, and in their intelligent consideration 
progress is made in the refined definition of values. But to center 


excessive attention on problems is to lose sight of the vital impor- 
tance of emotional loyalty, for analysis and criticism are appro- 
priate only where the more important devotion and loyalty are 
in danger of breaking down. Religious education should have 
as the foundation of its method and should keep in the focus of 
its attention the achievements of our people and their efforts to 
live the good life. 

The corrective of a vicious rationalism might be found in a 
renewed interest in ritual. It might be discovered that inad- 
vertently more ritual is practiced than is realized. A careful 
observation of the annual conventions of social workers, or labor 
leaders, or even scientific societies would reveal an unexpected 
amount of warm emotional and inspirational ritual. But it is 
incidental and unwitting. The Roman Catholic church accom- 
plishes its results to a large and perhaps unknown degree because 
of its beautiful buildings, its emotional pictures, and the recurrent 
and splendidly enacted drama in which the " Christian Epic" is 
presented afresh, week in and week out throughout the years. 
Not in discussion and analysis, not in rational proofs of theology, 
nor even in analysis of " problem situations" do they hold their 
members and fill their churches. Religion is social and collec- 
tive, problems are individual and always unique. They leave 
these latter to the confessional and I believe they are right. 

The current practice of some of the gifted leaders in religious 
education which seems to me to be so inadequately founded repre- 
sents a reaction against a procedure which we would all agree in 
calling inadequate. Children have been herded together and 
told what they should do, how they should amuse themselves, 
and what they should think. This has often been done without 
any consideration of the children or inquiry into how they feel 
about it. The results of such an imposed program have been 
very disappointing, and the pendulum has swung to an extreme, 
owing to what seems to be a defective analysis of the difficulty. 
Children want to get certain things out of any association, and 
if these are present it seems hard to find limits to the type of group 
they will join or the extent of their devotion to it when they are 
in it. 

If an attempt be made to set forth the conditions under which 
children will joyfully enlist themselves and continue their rela- 
tion to a group, I venture to make the following points: 


1. The group must have prestige. It must be a company to 
which he would like to connect himself. This prestige need not 
reside in the whole community; it may be a matter of family 
conviction. But if the group is one that does not seem attractive 
before he joins or does not appeal to him as being important after 
he is in it, there are difficulties which will be hard to overcome. 
A principle of the highest importance seems to be this: men do 
not join groups, nor do children, because they necessarily feel 
that they are like-minded with those in the group. It would be 
truer to say that we connect ourselves with groups because we 
are not like them but want to be like them. The church must 
have standing in the eyes of the child or he will never be suffi- 
ciently devoted to its life. 

2. The next point is closely connected with the first. Children, 
like their elders, want to belong to a company which is larger 
than themselves and sink their individuality in the common 
devotion to a collective enterprise. It is not too much to say 
that everyone belongs to groups or wishes he could, and when 
the group is presented as an attractive goal with the prestige of 
society there is hardly any price that will not be willingly paid 
in order to belong to it. The first and greatest tendency, then, 
may be given as loyalty. He wants to belong and he wants to 
be true to something. But in his heart this exists as form without 
content. So far as we know, there is nothing in any child that 
would precondition him to be loyal to the Catholics rather than 
the Baptists, 

3. Children, as well as adults, want friendship; they need close- 
ness of companionship and personal intimacy. Many an Epis- 
copal choir boy has sung till his voice changed, primarily because 
his friends were in the choir. How many of our interests have 
their origin in the interests of our friends cannot be said with 
accuracy, but no reader will fail to recall confirmatory experiences. 
The second general tendency, then, if we must mention it, is the 
tendency to seek friends and to value them. He who has no 
friends is lonely and unhappy, but as in the case of loyalty, this 
is really not a tendency at all but a vague and undefined craving, 
capable of being met in a thousand ways and leading to actions 
of a thousand kinds. 

4. If you solicit children and hold them, you must in some way 
praise them. Approval is essential and if it be denied there is a 


feeling of inferiority and failure. The extreme of this is despond- 
ency and despair. But here again, commendation and approval 
are only the form, and the content seems to be absolutely irrele- 
vant. Children enjoy being approved for what they do, what 
they say, how they look, what they wear, or what they know. 
Fundamental as this hunger for praise is, there is no moral quality 
here residing. The gangsters in the city streets are inspired by 
exactly the same need for praise as are the leaders in moral 
crusades. The form is the same; the only difference is in the 

Another condition might be mentioned, but it really belongs 
to the activities of the group itself rather than to the antecedent 
drives or tendencies. The group must have a program and the 
members of it must be doing interesting things. A group will 
be a failure if its activities are monotonous. The deadly sin is 
dullness. The psychological principle here is that purposes and 
goals of achievement must exist in the imagination of the children 
and when these are progressively realized there is always a light- 
ening of the teacher's task. It is not difficult to hold the interest 
and enthusiasm of the children in the month of December if 
Christmas plans are skillfully used. Even the bad boys can often 
say that just before Christmas they are as good as they can be. 
Such devices may descend to a form hardly better than an 
unworthy bribe, but doubtless much of the failure of group 
instruction can be traced to the barrenness of the program and 
the lack of anything to look forward to. We do not object to a 
certain amount of routine and unconscious or habitual activity, 
but we do need interesting and stimulating objects toward which 
we can strive. And a group which solicits a child into its member- 
ship must find some such attractive images or lose the interest of 
its members. 

What shall we say, then, of fundamental motives, or drives, or 
tendencies? Are we to return to the blank-paper conception of 
our fathers and think of the children as coming under our influence 
with no predispositions? Far from it. Very far from it. The 
children we have with us in religious education have many tend- 
encies, desires, habits, and motives; but these are not inborn, 
they are socially inbred. The tendencies belong not to the nature 
of the infant but to the social experience of the girl and boy. The 
important thing is to know what crowd the lad has been running 


with and what interests and ambitions he has picked up in his 
sojourn. The influence of motives, therefore, shifts from the 
individual child to the traditions and ideal of the groups to which 
he has belonged or with which he has been acquainted. The 
" fundamental motives" which the religious educator would need 
to consider on West Madison Street in Chicago would be very 
different from the " fundamental motives" which he would have 
to think of in a favored residential district. What the child has 
with him when he comes must be taken into account, but no 
analysis of general psychology is of any value here. It all seems 
to derive from the social experience. Whether a child is inter- 
ested in baseball, adventure stories, swimming, or petty thieving 
is of importance, but surely one does not need to argue that the 
genesis of these is to be found in his prior associations. 

Yet, even here some religious workers have been too timid. It 
is not wise to proceed in ignorance of the former ideals of a boy, 
but it is surely not necessary that closely allied motives shall be 
presented to him. For religious education, if it ever succeeds, 
must go into competition with the old motives and skillfully 
supplant them by better ones. It is not necessary in order to 
break up a boys' gang to organize another gang. It might be 
an appropriate action under some circumstances, but if the child 
comes at all he ought to come because he sees something better 
or more attractive in the new associations. There is nothing 
inappropriate in a week at a summer camp for the choir boys, 
but the same results might conceivably be obtained by periodical 
bean suppers with amateur dramatic performances under a skilled 
leader. Let the religious educator have faith in his power to 
change children. Civilization and culture operate on the raw 
material of human nature and succeed only after they skillfully 
organize these materials into a stable and worthy framework. 

We conclude, then, that the fundamental tendencies of children, 
the original drives or motives are inaccessible, and the current 
effort to find them is wasted effort. The nature of normal 
children is such that they can fit into any skillfully presented 
cultural pattern. Children are at the mercy of their culture, 
but so also were their fathers. If the reader of these lines will 
pause a moment and inquire how he came to have the religious 
alignment which he now confesses and asks himself concerning 
the source of the principles of morals and religion which he holds 


most dear, he will probably decide that very little of it is due to 
his own cleverness of originality. At best, we make a synthesis 
or a mosaic of competing formulations which have influenced us, 
and these are but a tiny fraction of that infinite variety of systems 
.extant in our world today. 

The important aspect, then, of motives in religious education 
is that they all have a history and that they can be created. 
Motives arise out of actions, and actions can be controlled if we 
can have command of the conditions. Essential as it is to note 
the motives that already exist, our chief effort should be to create 
the motives that we desire. We must not regard these motives 
as biological. Rather do they arise in social participation. 
Drives and tendencies are created in social experience, and the 
older and undesired ones can be replaced by later and more 
valuable urges. The energies of parents and teachers should 
be devoted to the task of so controlling conditions that new and 
powerful motives may lead to high endeavor in the interest of 
social welfare. He who deals with children will do well to ponder 
the profound saying of Dewey that it is the institutions which 
create our instincts. 


In another connection we have tried to show the social origin 
and the social nature of individual tendencies and motives. 
Culture and customs around the world and through the ages 
present such variety that it is hardly too much to say that every 
evil has at some time been treasured and every good condemned. 
"The mores can make anything right and prevent condemnation 
of anything/' wrote Sumner, and the facts he cited are convincing 
in their volume. From infanticide and the killing of the old to 
voluntary mutilation of the body, from ceremonial suicide and 
and the sacrifice of widows to the ceremonial slaughter of the 
king all through the list of "atrocious" practices we see evidence 
of the plastic nature of the human material and the sensitiveness 
of culture to changing conditions. 

And the moral of that is that the very children who grew up 
approving and practicing any of the customs so cited could have 
been reared to condemn them if transplanted at a sufficiently 
early stage. 

Children have two sets of ancestors, and every man is as much 
the child of his time as he is the child of his biological forebears. 
Indeed, if we consider the evidence of the children of immigrants 
like Chinese or Negroes, it is the cultural that looms large. But 
whatever the decision concerning the unimportant question of 
the relative proportion of the two, it is very clear that human 
children are sufficiently plastic to speak any human language 
that is spoken around them, to accept any moral code that is 
approved in their community, and to engage in any practice 
with unquestioning approval, in the absence of conflicting and 
opposing complexity. 

Whether the cultural tradition is right or wrong, good or bad, 
is not a matter for psychology. It is a matter of the highest 
importance, but it is not a matter for psychology. It is clear 
that Catholicism and Christian Science cannot both be true, since 



they are fundamentally contradictory in essential points; but 
it is also true that a given child might be brought up a devout 
Catholic or a devoted member of the Mother Church of Boston 
without any hindrance from the family tree or the religion of his 

The psychology of family discipline must, then, refuse to con- 
sider the question of values and devote itself to the problem of 
how any given tradition may be wisely and adequately trans- 
mitted. For transmitted it can be if we know the methods that 
are to be used. 

It is entirely proper to inquire concerning the right of the 
adults in any community to decide in advance what the child 
is to be taught and in what doctrines he is to be indoctrinated. 
There has been vigorous argument that it is presumptuous and 
unfair to prejudice the case and that each child should be left 
free to make his own system and to work out his own code and 
his own creed. Whether this position be sound or whether it be 
fallacious has, again, nothing whatever to do with our problem. 
If it be wrong to influence a child and if he should be allowed to 
work out his own salvation, there is little of the problem left, and 
the main injunction should be to keep hands off. But we are 
inquiring here as to the method it is best to adopt when, in 
the opinion of his elders, there is a tradition that the child does 
need to have. We wish to know the way in which it is trans- 
mitted and made strong. 

It is in the primary groups that the soul of a child is fashioned. 
The intimacies of such a relation combine to give the first concep- 
tion of himself and to define accurately the vagueness of his 
impulses. But what is essential in the nature of the primary 
group? It is in the face-to-face association and cooperation; it 
is in the free-flowing informality of the personal relations. The 
primary group has a quality of its own and is characterized on 
the negative side by its freedom from laws and formal official 
regulations and on the positive side by the intimacy of its contacts. 

And here we meet an apparent paradox. The family in modern 
society can be, and sometimes is, a primary group only in the 
chronological sense. When paternal tyranny issues decrees, 
enforces commands and threats, and inflicts punishments, it is 
a primary group in name only; its character has little to identify 
it with that essential quality which will enable influence to be 


transmitted and ideals to be taught. The first principle of family 
discipline is that the primary group should be kept " primary/' 
for the primary group has bonds of its own, and the bonds cannot 
be broken if the group is not to lose its character. 

If a precept might be indulged in, one would say: The child 
should be treated as nearly like an equal as possible not exactly 
as an equal but as nearly like an equal as possible. For the 
primary group is one where mutuality of relations is the essential 

In the practical application of this principle, it is necessary to 
distinguish the prelinguistic stage, approximately three years, 
from the later period in which articulate speech gives the power 
to reason easily and makes a consciousness of self possible. This 
earlier period is important as a foundation for the latter life, for 
then the foundations of later habits are laid down. It is not too 
much to say that the question of discipline need never arise, 
though it often becomes a serious problem. But an infant 
should not be directed to do things. Instead of being asked to 
take a bath, he is bathed. He is not told to go to bed; he is put 
to bed. Although the early conditions play a large part, yet the 
difficulties are, for the most part, artificial and are traceable to 
certain misconceptions. We may mention two of them. 

First, there is an underestimation of the strength of infantile 
impulses and a corresponding overestimation of the strength of 
the powers of inhibition. A candle flame will draw a child's 
hands into it dozens of times before the power to draw back is 
acquired. To expect "don'ts" and raps on the knuckles to 
inhibit later impulses is to invite disappointment. Every sensory 
experience is a motor impulse of more or less power, and it should 
be recognized that precept should await the years of linguistic 

In the second place, there is a defective theory of habit. Very 
young children can and do acquire habits, but obedience is hardly 
a habit; it is more properly called an attitude, since it does not 
stand for any specific act but rather represents a general tendency 
toward a mode of acting toward a given person. Inculcation 
of habits is perhaps wisely limited, so far as program is concerned, 
to routine acts and physical objects. It is more important that 
the relation toward parents and other adults be more generally 


And so, in the early years, it seems hardly desirable to use 
negative methods. The little animal can be carefully transported 
and removed, adjusted and deposited, with no expressed or 
implied displeasure over the fact that he should have been else- 
where or done otherwise. Lovingly to overpower an infant, if 
necessary, is always possible, and it will be sometimes helpful to 
consider him as a precious little animal with neither gratitude 
nor principles, with little power to resist undesirable impulses, 
and incapable of deliberately doing anything that is serious 
enough to be the occasion for rebuke. A thoroughgoing mechan- 
istic attitude toward an infant has much to recommend it and is a 
great aid to patience, for some adjustments have to be made not 
seven times, but seventy times seven. 

The whole situation alters when a child has learned to talk 
and when, in his talking with himself, he acquires a conception 
of his own and other personalities. Not that this happens with 
suddenness, but it does happen, and the attitude of respect and 
mutuality which belongs to the " primary relation" comes into 
its own when the dignity and respect with which a child is con- 
stantly treated result in a feeling of dignity and self-respect on 
his own part. 

This also has its negative side. Unless the design is that the 
child should become servile and lacking in initiative, it is necessary 
to avoid the orders and commands which are appropriate only to 
inferiors. That the child is inferior can easily be argued, but that 
he should consider himself inferior and that he should learn to 
take his purposes from another is not only not obvious but it 
would perhaps be denied in present-day discussion. But the 
fatal beginning of commands and authoritative directions means 
inevitably a further excursion into threats and penalties, and this 
sometimes leads to the development of a spineless type whose 
parasitic life bodes ill for subsequent efficiency. It sometimes 
leads to this result, but not always. At other times it produces 
rebellion and the negative "bohemian" type whose variations 
from accepted standards are of no value either to himself or to 
anyone else. 

It is surprisingly easy to forego the autocratic regime and at 
the same time produce a disciplined character. This does not 
mean that the child is to be indulged and allowed to "do as he 
pleases." Much of the confusion encountered in making this 


point clear arises from the notion that there is no middle ground 
between imposing the will of the elder and the stronger and 
allowing the weaker and the less experienced to make decisions 
unaided. The cultural influences are so influential and so over- 
whelming in their prestige that it is always possible to recom- 
mend them within the desired limits and to insist on them, if 
necessary, without breaking the bond or destroying the intimacy 
that belongs to a primary group. 

To be quite specific, it is necessary to conduct the life of a pri- 
mary group with none of the methods of a formal institutional 
organization if the character and value of the primary group be 
maintained. This means the absence of personal authority, 
commands, obedience, threats, penalties, punishment, and sub- 
mission, for to resort to these is to institutionalize the family and 
to clog the feed-pipe by which the ideals of the group are to reach 
the heart of the child. And there is a more excellent way. 

The vagueness and indefiniteness of the hereditary tendencies 
of children make them relatively easy to modify. There are no 
fixed instincts which have to be modified. There is, rather, the 
powerful urge to deserve approval and seek companionship. And 
the price a child will pay for these rewards is conformity with 
any cultural formulation. Personality is an organization of the 
social attitudes and the social attitudes are defined, always, by 
the others who stimulate and who respond. No child will feel 
critical toward the ritual or the dogmas of his ancestral religion 
in the absence of a competing and conflicting influence. We have 
already raised the question of the right of a parent to decide for 
a child. This is not in question. If the parent is in doubt 
about the truth or value of the formulation, it will be possible to 
leave the question open and to allow the child to decide for him- 
self later according to the way in which he can work out his 
formulations for himself. What we are discussing is the method 
by which the accepted and important principles can successfully 
be made an integral and powerful part of the personality of the 
child. And even admitting that there are subjects which are in 
transition and on which the parent may not wish to be dogmatic 
or wherein he feels that the child should be allowed his own liberty, 
yet there surely remains a body of teaching concerning which it 
would be wasteful to allow the child to feel his way by trial and 
error. There are the code of courtesy, the beauty of fine manners, 


the initial and subsequent attitudes about sex, and many more 
subjects. Concerning these it is a duty to teach as well as one 
knows how. 

The secret of control is to be found in the attractiveness of the 
group to which the child belongs, the intensity of the group 
consciousness, the espirit de corps, and the strength of the morale. 
The first of these is given. The child is always attracted to his 
family group unless by unwise negative treatment he be alien- 
ated. His family may not really be the best family, but it is his 
and he yearns to be loyal to it. Group consciousness arises, to 
some extent, in the normal family experience, but it is well to 
attempt to increase this consciously, by reciting family history, 
transmitting family traditions, teaching about worthy ancestors, 
celebrating family festivals, and employing acceptable and 
attractive family rituals. 

Morale is a feeling of confident assurance in the success of the 
endeavors of a group, and this is not difficult to cultivate. The 
best of us have our moments of self-doubting, and children more 
than they confess. If, in addition to the individual encourage- 
ment, there is the conviction of the worthiness and ultimate 
success of the family group, a source of strength and support is 
gained which is beyond price. 

The pride of a son in his father is the result, in no small part, 
of the standing which the father is believed to have in the eyes 
of the community. Family discipline in the modern world is 
easier if the elders have prestige. But the relation is such that 
many of us can stand rather well with our children for a number 
of years before they discover how ordinary and commonplace we 
are. And by the time they have found us out we can have 
started them well along on their way! 

It is the conviction of the writer that the crying need in the 
modern family is discipline. The earlier meaning of the word 
has been largely negative. The new methods must be positive. 
We must lead our children to be self-respecting American children, 
scorning a mean act, afraid only of dishonor, and loyal to the 
best traditions we know. In order to achieve this result we must 
avoid as the plague those repressive and punitive measures which 
produce either shadowy echoes on the one side or destructive 
nonconformity on the other. We need creative souls. Our 
children should make an advance upon our own achievements. 


But before this is possible, they need to come up to the point we 
have reached. 

Culturally, the family is a medium for transmitting the best 
in the life of the past to the citizens of the future. Our methods 
for doing this have been traditionally very unsound. The results 
are seen in the access of juvenile delinquency but infinitely more 
in the unhappiness of those whose sorrow no one knows. If we 
can learn the secret of it we shall have done something to bring 
in a happier and a wiser world. 



By behaviorism is meant a particular " school" in vigorous 
and militant opposition to other schools and in frank opposition 
to psychology. The term " behaviorism" is sometimes applied 
to any psychological interest in the movements and actions of 
men, but the behaviorists themselves object very strongly to 
this extension of the word, and in the interests of clear thinking 
the distinction should be preserved and kept in mind. 

To begin with, "behaviorism" does not denote the point of view 
of all students of behavior. " Behavior" is by no means a new 
word, and men learned to behave and talked and wrote about 
behavior long before the "ism" was added to denote a particular 
group holding a specific point of view. It is interesting, though 
not particularly important, to recall that the word " behavior" 
was originally an evaluative term, having to do with approved 
conduct. Children are still exhorted to behave, by which is 
meant that they should behave properly, should conform to 
standards. We cannot, therefore, discuss the implications of 
behaviorism by noting the uses of the word " behavior." 

In the second place, while behaviorists are concerned with acts 
and movements, there is no monopoly of attention to this aspect 
of life which these writers can claim. Indeed, psychology has 
always been interested in what men do and how they behave, 
and particularly in the last forty years an increasing emphasis 
has been laid upon the overt and observable actions. If psycholo- 
gists directed attention to what goes on "in the mind," this was 
only for the purpose of explaining more adequately what happened 
in the actions. Mental life has long been held to be the effect of 
past behavior and the condition of future behavior, and behavior- 

1 The word "behaviorism" is used with various meanings. The concep- 
tion here discussed is the definition which Professor John B. Watson himself 
has repeatedly insisted upon. 



ism did not arise until this interest had become a fixed tradition 
among psychologists. 

Though behaviorism is professedly concerned with an objec- 
tive method of investigating conduct, this concern does not differ- 
entiate it from psychology. The behaviorists advocate watching 
and listening to what the individual does and drawing scientific 
conclusions from the results. This method is, however, much 
older than behaviorism. A list of achieved results which psychol- 
ogists have produced in this way would be very long. Before 
behaviorism was invented there appeared the now conventional 
mental tests in which children are presented with certain little 
puzzles, and their success or failure in solving the puzzles, together 
with a record of their birthdays, led to far-reaching investigations 
and important deductions. The memory experiments using 
nonsense syllables, the photographing of eye movements in 
studying the psychology of reading, are but random instances of 
scores of completed researches which were planned and carried 
out in complete independence of behaviorism. 

Behaviorism is to be contrasted with psychology, but the dis- 
tinction does not lie in its interest in behavior nor in the advocacy 
or use of observational methods of investigation. As elaborated 
by its gifted founder, its distinguishing characteristic seems to 
be not a method but a philosophy. It is a philosophy of mecha- 
nism and materialism, involving a complete ignoring of mental 
life and even a denial of it. No behaviorist admits that he has a 
mind or that he is conscious or that his feelings are involved. 
The reason assigned is that conscious behavior, mental life, and 
feelings are not accessible to observation. If behaviorists cared 
to insist that they were investigating only a fraction of human 
life, and that other methods were necessary to get at the rest 
of it, there would be no controversy at all between behaviorists 
and psychologists. As it is, behaviorism vigorously excludes 
mental life and consciousness as being not only unimportant but 
as non-existent. Everything is to be stated in terms of physi- 
ology, which reduces ultimately to physics and chemistry. 

Behaviorism, therefore, appears as a sort of enterprise resulting 
from a self-denying ordinance. The attempt is to see what can 
be learned about human life by neglecting the mental aspect. 
Behaviorism thus appears as a sort of stunt. It is like a man 
who tries to swim a river with his hands tied behind him. It is 


as if a person should drive a car through the streets, blindfolded. 
Both of these exploits are possible and have been done. It 
would, however, be inadmissable to conclude that hands and eyes 
are not helpful. It would be even more difficult to deny their 
existence. The behaviorist attempts to study human life by 
observing movements, but the psychologist is interested also in 
the feelings, attitudes, and aspirations. Those interested in 
character education are concerned with faith, hope, and love. 
They are interested in investigating honesty, sincerity, and 
conscience. Now these are all related to behavior, but they are 
also aspects of life and they involve experiences which external 
observation never hopes to find. 

It ought not to be difficult to state the issue. The most 
important word is, perhaps, " experience." Now, experience 
includes movement and actions, but it seems to include more. 
Every psychologist regards the movements of men as highly 
important. Indeed, what a man does, if doing be defined with 
sufficient inclusiveness, will determine what the man is. A 
doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, a thief, a bootlegger, a murderer 
none of these can be defined or known apart from certain char- 
acteristic actions. 

But here arises the crucial question. The actions which men 
do are sometimes very slow in being done, and before the actions 
are performed there are many things which may happen to a man 
which no one can see. Moreover, when the act is over there are 
feelings of satisfaction and joy or of disappointment and disillu- 
sionment which are not always wholly registered in a man's face, 
nor are they always registered in his speech. Character educa- 
tion can never neglect the experiences of men. Not that all 
experience is wholly inner or subjective, for it is really never 
wholly subjective, but experience does not wholly yield itself 
to external scientific record. The history of all religions is 
eloquent of the assertion of the importance of the inner fraction 
of our lives. 

Another way to bring out the contrast bet ween behaviorism and 
psychology would involve the notion of habit. Now, habits are 
important, and since they tend to be mechanical, are naturally 
the object of attention from the behaviorist. Education should 
concern itself with good habits and, indeed, has always done 
so, but it seems doubtful whether habits are all we need to strive 


for unless we extend the meaning of the word " habit" to include 
mental and emotional habits, which behaviorism would at once 
forbid. The effort to reduce all life to habit might succeed in a 
society so fixed that change would never occur and difficulties 
and problems would never arise. In that case each one could live 
and die in the place in which it had pleased God to call him. But 
the world we live in is not so simple. We have many habits, 
some of which help and some hinder, but we have problems and 
difficulties for which no habits are available and which require 
us to think, to strive, to plan; and when we think and contrive, 
psychology has found it necessary to investigate the imagination 
which seems always to be involved. 

In this type of problem the point can be made clearer by illus- 
tration. Misled by the fact that language can be analyzed into 
words and that each word has to be learned, behaviorists have 
insisted that language and speech are habits. There is just 
enough truth in this contention to conceal the error. A man 
who is suddenly called upon to rise and address a dinner party 
may be at a loss to reply effectively, and if he does manage to 
get through with a few remarks, it is very unlikely that his speech 
would receive or deserve the name of habit. At this moment 
this chapter is being written. If the writer were in the habit of 
producing pages on behaviorism and character education, the 
paragraphs would run off much more smoothly. There are some 
definite notions which are being formulated, and there is a vivid 
feeling that it might be better done. Clearly the word " habit" 
is quite unsatisfactory to designate what is being done in phrasing 
the words of this discussion. There seems to be thinking and 
striving going on and a certain attempt to discover some method 
of making explicit and convincing the thoughts which the writer 
is endeavoring to express. There is much more in experience 
than habit. 

In the emphasis on habit behaviorism has a double motive. 
To insist that habit is all, is to deny that imagination is anything. 
It ought to be clear that character education is concerned with 
imagination. It is concerned with the formation of objects in 
the minds of children and their elders. Behaviorism naively 
asserts that a word is a conditioned reflex, so that we react to the 
word as we do to the thing. But psychology insists that the 
conception of the object is the important middle phase of action. 


In religious education children are taught to have right ideas 
about God, the church, the nation, and the home. These ideas 
involve what we may speak of as attitudes. They are not 
exactly habits, although they might be called habits of mind or 
habits of thought or habits of feeling. But they are not observ- 
able habits. A child with an attitude of devotion to his father 
will confine his actions to a certain area of performance, but the 
emergency or the situation will determine what is done, even 
when there is no habit at all. A loving attitude toward one's 
mother may mean an offer to help with the work, a plan to pro- 
vide a pleasant surprise, or an acceptance of some request or 
command. It is in this insistent emphasis on habit and the 
unwarranted assertion that habit and learning are the whole of 
life that the contrast of behaviorism with psychology is most 
conspicuously felt. 

Another consequence of the behavioristic assumption of mecha- 
nism is an unwarranted position concerning stimulus and response. 
This has had a great influence on the preparation of tests and 
certain types of investigation, but the influence has not been 
altogether wholesome. Misled by the fact that much of our life 
can be formulated in terms of stimulus and response, behaviorism 
asserts that all human actions can be so comprised. Now this 
position has been thoroughly criticized, and upwards of thirty 
years ago John Dewey published a critique which has been fol- 
lowed by many similar discussions, notably those of Bode, Mead, 
and Znaniecki. One looks in vain, however, for any awareness 
of this criticism in the controversial literature produced by the 
behaviorists. To some of us the objection seems positively 

This point is so important that an attempt must be made to 
set it forth. First, we must observe that stimulus and response 
do occur whenever a habit is suddenly evoked by its appropriate 
"cue." There is every warrant for speaking of the movement 
as a response to a stimulus. A sleepy baby will respond in this 
way to a nursing bottle, for there is an existing mechanism. A 
man working at his desk will answer the telephone automatically 
with a minimum of effort, for here again is a mechanism. Some 
of our mechanisms are inherited but most are acquired. All, 
however, are to be thought of as in the structure of the body and 
are the result of organization. 


But not all movements are responses to stimuli. In a chang- 
ing and contingent world it is impossible to foresee every situation 
or to provide by means of drill and training for every emergency. 
We are confronted with new problems for which we have no 
adequate response, and where there is no response there can be 
no certain stimulus. Stimulus and response involve relation, an 
organization. If the unknown is pressing and insistent and suffi- 
ciently strange, there may be utter confusion and total disorgani- 
zation. There is neither habit, mechanism, object, stimulus, 
nor response. Internally there is disorganization and search for 
response; externally there is vagueness and search for stimulus. 
If and when the problem is solved, and not until then, stimulus 
and response emerge. Organization succeeds disorganization. 
In Dewey's classic phrase, response in such cases is not to the 
stimulus but into the stimulus. 

The response, then, may be said to constitute the stimulus, for 
a stimulus is such because we respond to it. An article is food 
because we eat it, and we make it into a food by eating it. A 
woman is precious because she is loved; friends are made, and so 
are enemies. If this point of view be accepted there is involved 
a complete restatement of the familiar and over-simplified 
behavioristic doctrine, for in human experience are involved 
imagination, tentative ways of conceiving, various attempted 
definitions of object, and the final selection of some conception 
that will harmonize and organize this particular moment. 

In the field of religion and character education such experiences 
are well known and are all important. When a scornful non- 
believer is converted after an emotional crisis, there is involved a 
redefinition of old objects, a different cluster of images around 
the familiar concepts. To such a person the Bible is a different 
book. The important aspect is his conception of God, man, the 
church, and himself. These must all have been reorganized, and 
this is to say that he has secured new responses and thereby 
created or organized new stimulations. 

But stimuli and responses are the result of his striving and 
contriving. He has not acted in response to a stimulus but has 
so organized his chaotic life that he now has new stimuli and new 
responses. Response and stimulus are not effect and causes but 
occur simultaneously. They are, strictly speaking, correlative. 
Our objects, therefore, exist in our imagination. Cooley has 


shown in a brilliant statement that even our friends exist for us 
as images of possible movements. My friend is one whom I think 
of as a person who will speak pleasantly to me, clasp my hand 
warmly, or lend me money. He is not to be described in terms 
of muscles and bones and glands, but rather of the imagined 
responses which I think of. If the friendship is destroyed, the 
muscles and glands are still there but the imagined activity has 
disappeared and my friend is gone. 

There is, therefore, a whole realm of character education and 
religious experience which behaviorism is professedly incompetent 
to investigate, or even to characterize. It is more important, 
says James, to know your lodger's philosophy of life than to know 
his bank account. Psychology finds this point of view in much 
of the ancient wisdom. Psychology would approve the ancient 
maxim, to keep the heart with all diligence since from it are the 
issues of life. Behaviorism, however, would throw this away. 
It seems that thoughts, conceptions, principles, and ideals, while 
not independent of behavior, are essential aspects which need to 
be studied and without which the external movements cannot be 

This discussion has turned out to be controversial and polemic. 
When it was begun there was no such intention, but the treat- 
ment seems inevitable, and the reason is that the contribution of 
behaviorism is not in its methods but in its philosophy. Even 
if we set down to the credit of behaviorism a certain stimulation 
of attention to objective methods this is, as earlier remarked, 
neither original nor new and would certainly have gone on had 
behaviorism never appeared. We may accurately characterize 
behaviorism as an attempt to state the essentials of human life 
by denying the mental or conscious aspect of it. At present the 
controversy is at its height. If one might risk a prophecy, it 
would take the form of a conjecture that within ten years the 
extreme position of behaviorism will have been greatly modified. 
In the opinion of the writer the sooner, the better. 

The effect of behaviorism and its influence have, however, been 
great. One interesting result has been the increased activity of 
many gifted workers who deal with tests and statistics. Of 
course, neither tests nor statistics can be credited to behaviorism 
since they began much earlier, but there is a certain inhibition 
which one discovers in the writings of contemporary investigators 


who fear to use the words "feeling" or " thought" or "imagina- 
tion" because they are out of favor with behaviorists. 

There seems to be no cause for concern. It ought to develop 
rather promptly that while statistical methods reveal aspects of 
life, and even of personality, which can be discovered in no other 
way, the statistical treatment of observed actions will serve only 
to lead up to the important problem of the inner aspect of life 
and mind. What we think and feel, what we imagine and strive 
for, what we remember and hope these are as important as 
ever, and even from the behaviorists, who deny that these exist, 
there may come some useful observations on the other half of 
life which can be seen and measured. It is idle to talk about which 
is important, the outer and more observable, or the inner and 
hidden. Neither exists without the other. Both must be taken 
into account in any adequate statement concerning human nature 
and the possibility of education. 



Conservatism in terminology is always desirable. An indis- 
criminate coinage of new words is not to be undertaken lightly, 
for this involves a waste of time and effort, impairing the con- 
tinuity of scientific writing. Science has been called funded 
knowledge, and if each one gives free rein to his desire to use new 
words, it is difficult to add to the edifice of our predecessors, or 
to ensure that those who follow us will profit by what we have 
done. In the matter of a term for designating those peoples who 
are the subject matter for ethnological research, there is, however, 
an apparent need for a better term than those now current. 

For some time the writer has been using in lectures and class 
discussions the term " preliterate " to designate the peoples of 
the soci&tes inferieures, as Levy-Bruhl calls them. These pages 
are written to suggest the term to scholars at work in the fields 
of ethnology, sociology, and psychology as a more objective word 
than any of those now current. The term is obviously suggested 
by L6vy-Bruhl's word "pre-logical," and it seems even more 
defensible than that very questionable word. Upon a very cur- 
sory consideration of the writings in this field, the need for a new 
terminology becomes apparent. Goldenweiser has recently 
broken away from any attempt to make a distinction, and 
entitles his book Early Civilizations, treating as civilized the 
Eskimos, Australians, Central Africans, and Iroquois. This use 
of the word " civilization " has been criticized as an unwarrant- 
able extension, robbing the word " civilized" of any content, for 
indeed if all peoples are civilized, we shall need a new word to 
indicate the great difference in culture that separates us of the 
modern tradition from the societies found in Melanesia, Central 
Africa, and Greenland. 

The history of terminology in this field is long but need not be 
recounted in detail. It would include, among others, the words 
"pagan," "heathen," "barbarian," "savage," "primitive," 
"lower races," "nature peoples," and several others. The 



etymology of these words reveals them to have been objective 
in origin, though they have acquired a content which ethnocen- 
trism has turned into depreciation. We know that the pagan 
was originally merely a villager, that the heathen was at first 
merely a plainsman, and that the savage was originally only a 
forest-dweller. These words have, however, all acquired a mean- 
ing which has led to their gradual abandonment as scientific terms. 
How recent this development is, will appear from recalling the 
title of one of Dewey's epoch-making papers which he called the 
" Interpretation of the Savage Mind." 

The word now most widely used is " primitive," by which men 
from Herbert Spencer to Boaz, in works including some of our 
most valuable literature, designate those peoples and cultures 
which I propose to speak of as "preliterate." The most recent 
book in this field, that of L6vy-Bruhl, which appeared in English 
in 1923, is called Primitive Mentality. 

The objections to the term " primitive" are several. It is 
ambiguous. There was a primitive man, and concerning him 
much has been written. The myths all describe him, and Hobbes, 
Locke, Rousseau, and many more have set down in detail the 
picture of him as they conceived him. The primitive man of 
Hobbes was the hypothetical, primordial being who was presup- 
posed in a political theory. Rousseau described another one, 
quite opposite in character, but imaginary. Herbert Spencer 
in accordance with the preconception, which we no longer enter- 
tain, identified contemporaneous peoples of preliterate cultures 
with primitive man, and since Spencer the word has been widely 
used to denote the Bantus, the Polynesians, the Negritos, and all 
those peoples outside the cultural influences of Europe and Asia. 

It needs no argument to show that primitive man, so desig- 
nated, is not really primitive. Their culture is very old, their 
languages are complex and highly developed, and their inheritance 
goes back very far. They are often referred to now as "so-called 
primitive peoples." 

" Preliterate " seems a far better word. It is neutral, connoting 
no reflection of inferiority, and is, therefore, objective and descrip- 
tive. Moreover, it may well be that the introduction of a 
written symbolic language is the chief differentiation between the 
culture of city-dwellers and those who belong to the "lower 
societies." But whether this be true or not, it is evident that 


none of the peoples we include in the terms " savage " and "primi- 
tive" possesses a developed, written language. This is not because 
such peoples cannot learn to read and write. Missionaries and 
teachers have proved that letters are not impossible to them. 
They have simply not had the opportunity to learn. They are 
not literate, nor illiterate. They are preliterate. 

Preliterate man is, then, one in whose culture there is no writ- 
ten literature. And it is obvious that such a person is in a very 
different situation, culturally, from an illiterate person, by whom 
we mean a man who cannot read what other members of his 
society have written and can read. 

It would be interesting to attempt to set forth the changes in a 
culture which the introduction of writing brings about. For 
writing means record, and the records of a vanished generation 
make possible a continuity of culture otherwise impossible. 
Literate people have a history; preliterate peoples have only oral 
tradition. And the difference is analogous to the possession by 
a person of memory. To lose one's memory is to lose one's 
personality. And something analogous to the acquisition of 
memory takes place when the records of the past give us an atti- 
tude toward our ancestors otherwise impossible. Moreover, 
written instruments transcend not only time but space and make 
possible the integration of societies into larger units, thus adding 
a new dimension to life. It is no accident that civilization is 
derived from the word "city," for preliterates do not really have 
cities. At the most they have large villages. 

Literature begins with Egypt, and in spite of many differences 
between the civilizations of China, India, Greece, Rome, Babylon, 
and medieval Europe, one is constantly being impressed with 
the fact that all of these civilizations have many points in common 
which differentiate them clearly from that large outer group 
whom we speak of as preliterate. 

Modern man may be differentiated by several cultural ele- 
ments, but science, in the sense of controlling nature, is perhaps 
the most outstanding one., For this we go back very far to get 
the germs, but the full expression is a matter of only a few genera- 
tions. Mathematics, objective science, and humanism differ- 
entiate us from the ancients. A written language differentiates 
both us and the ancients from those who have not yet learned 
to write the preliterates. 



It is at once fortunate and unfortunate when the important 
practical problems are also the problems of greatest interest to the 
theorist. It is fortunate, for it gives a sense of reality and vitality 
to the work of the theorist, which is a distinct advantage: it is 
unfortunate in so far as it tends to becloud the issue with preju- 
dices and interests which even the scientist may often vainly 
strive to escape. These prejudices and interests not only con- 
fuse the mind of the investigator, hindering his method and 
warping his conclusions, but they condition the reception of his 
work by his critic and his public, with lasting detriment to the 
cause of truth. 

There are many questions, of concern to the social psychologist, 
which fall within this category and which clearly show the effect 
of preconception and bias. I have in mind such questions as the 
relation of nature to nurture, the relation of original nature to 
the modifications effected by social experience, including the 
origin of the differences between the several racial and national 
groups. Of most emotional interest is the problem of the capac- 
ity and possibilities of the colored races, and the effects of 
miscegenation. Less important, but still within the list, would 
come such questions as the nature of religion and of superstition, 
the differences between the sexes, the problem of the nature and 
number of the human instincts or whether there should be any 
such instincts assumed, the relation of the individual to the group, 
and such like. 

The greater part of these questions are rightly regarded as 
psychological, and the sociologist usually assumes that their 
solution must come from individual psychology and that groups 
cannot be understood without the possession of these solutions 
from the laboratory. Now, the ethnologist has a similar problem, 
and he has decided that he does not need to wait for the results of 



psychology. At least Lowie has so argued in his Ethnology and 
Culture. Of course the ethnologist is chiefly interested in setting 
forth the objective cultures and, as his material is objective, his 
ideal is to form hypotheses without assumptions concerning the 
mental processes of the people whom he studies. 

It is the object of this paper to call attention to the attitude 
toward social origins which the sociologist can take and which 
has been so much neglected. If we assume that personality is a 
group resultant, that human nature is inconceivable apart from 
language, then it is clear, since there is no such thing as a langu- 
age in general, that personality will develop in a concrete local 
situation. If we assume that human nature cannot be conceived 
apart from wishes, and if we agree that ideals and life-organiza- 
tions can only exist in a society, then the study of social origins 
ought to throw much light upon human nature. Each group 
develops its own type of leadership, and its own brand of human 
nature, and the study and comparison of widely separated groups 
is, therefore, one method of studying psychology. 

The psychological methods are familiar, being matters of com- 
mon knowledge. Introspection has never been wholly discred- 
ited, but its limitations have been increasingly recognized of late, 
for introspection is always memory, and memories, alas, are 
influenced by our wishes and greatly modified by them. More- 
over, the wishes of the individual are always related to the wishes 
of the group, the purposes of the individual to the purposes of the 
group, so that introspection reveals human nature as modified 
and fashioned in social life. 

Experiments in laboratories have clarified many difficult 
questions, but the results have, on the whole, been of most value 
when the problems have been most simple. Experiments on 
sensations have yielded the largest results, and in these cases it 
is not always easy to distinguish psychology from physiology. 

A distinctly newer method is that of abnormal psychology. 
The recent and well-known attempts of Freud and others to apply 
the concepts used in their work with neurotic patients to normal 
psychology are not so helpful as was at first hoped. And when 
the writers go farther afield and explain social origins by psycho- 
logical principles, it is no longer acceptable. The explanation 
of totem and taboo by Freud which enables him to explain the 
culture of African natives on the basis of the dreams of neurotic 


Austrian women is as simple and naive as it is unsound, A 
recent explanation of this method recites the story of a Fuegian 
who related that the first man climbed down out of heaven on to 
earth by a grapevine. The psychiatric ethnologist writes that 
this is frankly a sex myth, the inverted bowl of the sky being the 
uterus, and the grape-vine being the umbilical cord! 

Still another type of genetic explanation has arisen from a 
study of the war neuroses of soldiers. Now, soldiers who break 
down with so-called shell shock are for the most part suffering 
from fear. The abnormalities of sex observed among them are 
most apt to take the form of homosexual practices. And it was 
to be expected that the writers on these cases should attempt to 
apply the conclusion to social origins and the mind of primitive 
man. The influence of this can be seen in Psycho-therapy by 

All that needs to be pointed out in this connection is that 
psychiatric theories of primitive man assume a sort of recapitula- 
tion and vestigial reversion which does not stand the test of 
objective field investigation. Primitive man is not to be under- 
stood nor most clearly viewed from the consulting room of the 
neurologist in one of our great cities. 

Quite another method of studying human nature is that of 
animal psychology. Unfortunately, this is chiefly anecdotal in 
character and uncritical in the highest degree. It can hardly be 
called a method of explaining instinct. It is rather a custom. 
Most of the discussion of curiosity, constructiveness, fear, anger, 
and such like has leaned chiefly on the dog, the wolf, the ant, and 
the bee. An Englishman recently wrote a book on human 
instincts, the greater part of which is taken up with the opinion 
of former writers of books, but when one comes toward the middle 
of the volume upon the first discussion of an instinct, it is con- 
cerned with the wild ox of Demaraland. 1 

None of these methods should be minimized. In their own 
field they stand independently and even outside it they some- 
times suggest analogies and insights that are of great value, but 
they do not get to the real data of their problem. If we are to 
understand human nature, we must study human nature; and 
if we study human nature, we must not study some unreal and 

1 Of course this does not refer to experimental animal psychology, which is 
not a study of human nature at all but exists quite independently. 


deceptive abstraction of it. Individual or differential psychology 
is a very fruitful field, but its data are partly social. 

In one sense it is true that the views of human nature which 
we now hold to be erroneous have a common error. They all 
tend to identify the natural with the familiar. They failed to 
take account of the larger human group. Savages they did not 
have access to, and babies were not considered of sufficient impor- 
tance. The philosopher who believed in God thought of his 
belief as natural. He who believed in a king held that the rule 
was by divine right and in accordance with the very nature of 
the universe. Those who opposed a doctrine did so from the 
belief that their own introspections were a revelation of nature 
itself. Descartes taught that ideas were inborn, but the inborn 
ideas of Descartes were those current in the Europe of his day. 
Locke taught that the mind was a blank and the slate wiped clean, 
but he made no study of children, nor did he have any real 
method of assembling facts. 

The confusion of nature with the customary still exists as a 
heritage from the Greeks themselves. They, indeed, made a 
distinction between nature and convention, but the nature which 
they described seems to us to be merely an older convention. 
Aristotle taught that it was natural for a Negro, but not a Greek, 
to be a slave. In the Stoic's worship of nature, the wrongs and 
ills to which men were accustomed were inflicted on the sufferer 
by nature. Said Marcus Aurelius, "When you kiss your child, 
say to him/ Perhaps you will be dead tomorrow.' " Mr. Strachey 
records of Doctor Arnold that when he lay in pain upon a couch 
he asked his son to go thank God for this pain which had been 
sent to him. Many who read this passage feel that somehow the 
poor are the naturally unfit. McDougall in his book Is American 
Safe for Democracy f records that the Negro race is very strong 
in the instinct of submission. 

The point of all this is that men have generalized broadly 
upon a fractional experience, in realizing the extent to which 
plastic human nature can be made to assume definite forms. 
Instincts asserted of human beings have been created by psychol- 
ogists and sociologists alike to "explain" any given phenomena, 
whether war, pioneering, or vagabondage. Biologists may doubt 
the Darwinian formula of survival and natural selection as applied 
to individuals, but psychologists have kept the faith when con- 


sidering instincts. We have plenty of trouble now, but in the 
Golden Age nature was always right and every instinct was 
brought in on account of its survival value. The implications 
of the current doctrine are three in number: 

1. Instincts are the same in man and animals. 

2. Instincts exist because they were first useful. 

3. Instincts can be observed in their activity by anyone who 
will make himself familiar with human conduct. 

A corollary of these beliefs is that individual psychology formu- 
lated according to this method is a prerequisite to the question 
of group life. 

It seems necessary to question all these assumptions. There 
is probably a real difference between man and the animals. A 
study of cultural groups does not wait for the psychology of the 
individual. On the contrary, the individual can be known fully 
only by means of the methods of social investigation. The group 
will help illuminate the nature of this process. 

And here comes in the task of the sociologist, for it is he who 
is chiefly interested in the processes of human nature which are 
involved in culture and which the ethnologist notices only inciden- 
tally. If the problem of instincts cannot be solved by a study 
of primitive peoples, at least the problem could be greatly illu- 
minated. One writer asserts that hunting and fighting alone 
interested primitive man. Therefore, all work is drudgery and 
no one ever really likes it. The student of primitive life might 
investigate further instances of the building of houses, clearing 
of land, child-caring, and other forms of group life which bear 
no relation to hunting or fighting, and which are intensely inter- 
esting. The findings on this subject would throw much light on 
the theoretical question involved. Graham Wallas insists that 
the human race inherits an instinct for irregularity in work, and 
since primitive man did no regular work, modern man finds it 
irksome. The response of primitive people to regular work, like 
their response to regular meals, could be noted, and the facts 
ought to throw some light on the problem. 

The burden which primitive man has to bear is very heavy 
at the present time, particularly the moral burden. Primitive 
man is blamed for juvenile delinquency, marital infidelity, 
family desertion, dislike of work, and for crime and war. The 
thin veneer of civilization is a metaphor from the furniture 


factories at Grand Rapids, but it implies an unjustifiably unchari- 
table view toward the poor savage. Anyone who has carefully 
studied the literature of primitive peoples and has given due 
weight to the absence of punishment of their children, and who 
has considered the relative completeness of the social control 
which they have developed, will look for another explanation of 
our adolescent rebellion. It is entirely possible that we ourselves 
have invented many original sins and that there are new and 
modern ways of acting the fool. Certainly, the question of a 
native tendency to storm and stress on the part of the adolescent 
can be illuminated by a study of primitive peoples. On this, 
as on many psychological problems, it is possible to shed much 
light from ethnology. 

Many other questions, such as that of the culture epochs on 
which hang the question of recapitulation, the question of sex 
differences, and the relation of the individual to the group, are 
all capable of illumination by methods which include the com- 
parison of cultures. 

For example, the theory of culture epochs is passing in eth- 
nology. Polyandry was supposed to be a phase of culture having 
a definite relation to a specific form of economic organization. 
When, however, it is found that polyandry exists in Tibet where 
there is agriculture, among the Todas who are pastoral, and 
among certain Eskimo tribes who are still hunters, the conclusion 
which the social psychologist is led to make is fairly obvious. 

Another instance of the value of this method is in the names of 
relationship which the ethnologists are now studying with great 
zeal and promise of interesting results. When we find that among 
many peoples there is no word for father or mother, but only a 
word denoting parent; when in other societies there appears no 
distinction between child and grandchild, or between mother and 
aunt when these and a score of other similar facts are noted, 
the conclusion is inevitable that the psychological basis of the 
family is a more variable phenomenon than is usually assumed. 
On this psychological problem there remains yet much light to be 
shed from the study of primitives. 

The study of words is in itself very instructive, and the struc- 
ture of the grammar of primitive peoples which is as yet so imper- 
fectly known, will in future lend much real aid to the study of 
human nature. 


The sex differences are still highly important to us and form 
a problem as yet quite unsolved. Schurz in a classic utterance 
has explained the outstanding fact of primitive life to be the 
well-known psychological fact that women are not gregarious. 
Mrs. Talbert, however, in her work among the Ibibios describes 
a most elaborate system of secret societies, thus discrediting the 
explanation by objective citation of new facts. 

The question of diffusion, as against independent origin, which 
is now a storm center of ethnological debate, must be settled by 
the ethnologists and the anthropologists among themselves. The 
argument is often so heated that epithets and names fly very 
freely. The sociologist should and will wait for the experts to 
agree, but the point here is that when they shall have agreed we 
shall be able to know much more than we now do about the 
relations of the individual to the group. 

The social psychologist must no longer assume that he cannot 
attack the problem of collective behavior or understand cultural 
groups without a working theory of individual psychology. 
Social psychology was at one time proposed as the science of the 
individual as modified by the social processes of the group. We 
must take seriously the statement that no such pre-existing indi- 
vidual is discoverable. 

Primitive man has very frequently been invoked as an explana- 
tion of some social phenomenon of modern life. He has oftener 
been coerced into justifying a political interest or buttressing an 
established practice. He has at times helped a devoted reformer 
in his effort to uproot established institutions that have cumbered 
the ground. He has done much service in furnishing the human 
element in mythologies and cosmologies. Sociologists have used 
him to furnish concrete confirmation of their deductive conclu- 
sions. Herbert Spencer used him to show that evolution 
demanded a halfway stage between animal and man. Sumner 
brought him in to prove that man is an irrational and helpless 
creature, too plastic and too helpless to boast. Westermarck 
employs him to illustrate his own doctrine of instincts and the 
emotional doctrine of morality. McDougall makes use of him, 
as do most psychologists, to illustrate and confirm the doctrines 
of the instincts. 

Few of us have, however, studied him. Here lies a vast 
treasure of psychological knowledge for the most part untouched. 


Primitive man who is really primitive is gone and gone forever. 
None of us ever saw him alive. Contemporary uncivilized 
peoples exist, and the careful, objective, scientific study of their 
manners, customs, ritual, speech, and other behavior is destined 
richly to reward those who are able to study them. We may, 
indeed, hope to solve some of our theoretical problems here. 

The social psychologist must no longer assume that collective 
behavior can be studied only after we have in hand a complete 
statement of the nature of the individual. Social psychology is 
not merely a study of the modification of the individual that 
occurs in social situations. It is time to realize that these facts 
are ready at hand and that the individual whom psychology was 
supposed to study does not exist and never did. And, since he 
does not exist, he cannot be modified in a social group. On the 
contrary, he is created in a social group. He can be found only 
by looking there. 



The conception of the mind of " primitive man" held by Her- 
bert Spencer 1 had the advantage of aesthetic symmetry and pro- 
portion. If animals can be arranged in serried ranks, and if the 
highest of these is infinitely below the civilized man, there ought 
surely to be, not only a missing link, but also grades or ranks of 
men varying in their capacities and possibilities. If this assump- 
tion be made, and if the isolated sentences quoted from travelers 
and residents among savages be duly cited, it is possible to make 
out a good case, as the classical statement of Spencer shows. 
The criticism of this point of view by J. R. Angell, 2 F. Boas, 3 
John Dewey, 4 W. I. Thomas, 6 and others has grown in volume 
in recent years. It is possible now to declare one thing confi- 
dently, namely, that should it finally be demonstrated that the 
savage is inferior to civilized man it will have to be proved on 
other grounds than those formerly held sufficient. The old argu- 
ments are discredited and the old facts questioned. The inquiry 
may be prosecuted now with methods of scientific precision 
impossible to an earlier generation, and the next chapter of the 
investigation should be written with the help of our recently 
acquired technique of modern experimental psychology. 

It is our purpose here to offer some observations on the subject 
based on a residence of several years among the tribes of the 
Upper Congo River, with particular reference to the people living 
around the mouth of the Bosiri River, almost exactly on the 
equator. These tribes were so recently subjugated that it was 
possible to find many villages not previously visited by a white 
man. The people are Bantus, clothed in raffia, with native iron- 
working arts, no written language whatever, and still practicing, 

1 SPENCER, H., Principles of Sociology. 

9 ANGELL, J. R., Chapters in Modern Psychology. 

* BOAS, F., The Mind of Primitive Man. 

4 DEWEY, JOHN, Psychological Review, IX. 

8 THOMAS, W. I., Sex and Society. 



at rare intervals, ceremonial cannibalism. The tribes are isolated 
and small, no one with any gifts of political leadership or military 
genius having appeared to found large units. They are the sort 
of people to whom the older and familiar generalizations were 
meant to apply. They were supposed to have keen sense-organs 
beyond the power of civilized man to approach. The eye was 
assumed to have the power of field glasses. There was supposed 
to be a native sense of direction better than a compass for finding 
the way home. Emotionally the native was believed to be very 
unstable, impulsive, incapable of anything like persevering labor, 
improvident, intolerant of restraint, and unmoral. Intellectu- 
ally he was said to be a superficial observer, quick, especially 
in childhood, maturing early and soon coming to the limit of 
development, and with little or no power to think in abstract 
terms, lacking in discrimination, and without ability to concen- 
trate on a problem. The literature of the " imitation school" 
of social psychology abounds in references to the " primitive 
traits" which are supposed to come to the surface in religious 
revivals, mob activities, and whenever the restraints of ordered 
life are removed. 

Before going into the statement of the actual facts as they were 
found, there are half a dozen sources of error which are sufficiently 
noteworthy to be set down here as explaining in part how such a 
mistaken view could have been formed, assuming that it is a 
mistaken view. Let us consider these : 

1. The most obvious force operating to tip the scales of sober 
judgment is race prejudice, the assumption that other people are 
inferior to us in so far as they are different. We are coming to 
realize that the Hindu, the Chinese, and the Japanese are not 
convinced of their inferiority, but rather are certain of our 
inferiority to them ; but it comes as a surprise when first we learn 
that the Eskimo has the same conviction. The same is true 
eminently of the Congo native. In a good-natured debate one 
day I was giving arguments for the superiority of the white 
man over the black, and instanced the fact that in a territory 
containing twenty million natives the absolute authority was 
exercised by the Belgians, who numbered less than a thousand. 
The reply was immediate. 

"Give us breech-loading guns and ammunition, and within a 
month there will not be one of the thousand left alive here." 


"But/ 1 says the white man, "that is the point. The white 
men invented and made their guns and ammunition." 

"Sir, do you know how to make a gun and ammunition?" 
" Well, no, not yet, but I could learn to make them in a factory." 
"Certainly you could, if they would teach you, but so could 

Many of those who observed and recorded their experiences and 
whose record became the source of the older views were men 
whose perceptions were colored by the conviction of a measureless 
superiority and judicial fairness in such circumstances is not 
always easy. 

2. Unwarranted generalization is the commonest danger in 
scientific research, a danger against which the carefully trained 
scientist is likely to be sufficiently on his guard. But most of 
the observers whose words are quoted in the books were not 
careful scientists, and their unwarranted but explicable leaps of 
inference are set down as unprejudiced and dependable fact. 
For example, a native finds his way back home unaided when the 
white man in the party is hopelessly lost, whereupon it is set 
down in imperishable record, to be copied with an uncritical 
credulity, that primitive people have a mysterious instinct of 
direction and carry compasses in their heads. Or one of them 
is very stupid in handling a new tool and makes a laughable 
blunder in trying to use a saw, and forthwith it is demonstrated 
that his whole race has no power of logical thought! 

It is fair to say that some of the most careful of writers have at 
times been guilty of using isolated anecdotes from travelers and 
have thus fallen into this type of error. It is like the foreign 
traveler who saw a street fight from the window of a Pullman car 
and, having inquired the name of the state, wrote in his notes, 
"The inhabitants of Illinois are a very warlike race." Primitive 
man has been treated that way many times. 

3. Another source of error might, by a slight stretch of terms, 
be called the psychologist's fallacy. It is the assumption that we 
are viewing the matter exactly as the person under observation 
does, which assumption is uniformly untrue. Consider, for 
example, the reports on native religions, even by those who have 
lived for years among the people. Most of such reports are, or at 
least were, inaccurate to a surprising extent. We have assumed 
that any human being could observe the facts of social life. No 


one would accept the observations of an uneducated sailor to 
determine the facts of botany or geology, and ability to report 
on social facts is equally dependent on training. 

The Western observer thinks of religion in terms of doctrines 
and theologies and is able to report the beliefs and doctrines of 
the native in a way that is very complete and systematic and 
misleading. In fact, a safe rule would be to trust implicitly the 
account of an actual happening reported by a reputable traveler 
or explorer or missionary but to be very slow to accept his 
explanation of the event. 

For example, the natives are supposed to have a belief in 
spirits which extends to everything they see in their world. The 
trees have a spirit, there is a spirit of the river, a spirit in the 
stones, and in every object in their world. 

Now the very great difficulty that I found in getting a satis- 
factory word that would answer to the concept of "spirit" leads 
me to question this statement. And I can imagine a psychologi- 
cally inclined Eskimo coming among us and reporting in a paper 
before the Polaris Scientific Institute that white people believe 
every chair to be inhabited by a spirit, proving his point by 
declaring that he has seen many a white man curse a chair after 
it had maliciously got in his way and caused him to stumble over 
it. 1 White people believe that spirits inhabit golf balls and bil- 
liard balls and are frequently seen to offer short prayers to them 
in order to induce them to roll where they are wanted. They 
also imprecate them if they do not obey. They believe that so 
small an object as a collar button has an evil spirit, and often 
swear violently when this little object rolls under the furniture 
thinking that the action is caused by the mischievous spirit of 
the button. The interpreter of the savage mind must beware of 
the psychologist's fallacy. 

4. A fourth source of error may be called the mythopeic error, 
the tendency of a native to invent an explanation rather than 
confess ignorance. Most of their customs are due to unthinking 
adherence to the ways of the former generations, and they are 
not conscious of why they do them. If asked a reason, they will 
often invent one, but this is not necessarily the true reason. Few 

1 Missionaries in inland China report that the natives consider that the 
missionaries worship chairs, on the ground that they often bow down to 
them at family worship. 


of us could give offhand the explanation of why we remove our 
hats in saluting a lady acquaintance. In fact, it does seem 
almost unreasonable "to make the meeting of a female friend the 
occasion for taking off part of your clothes to wave in the air." 
Any explanation that the man in the street might give of the cus- 
tom would be a guess, and this is doubly true of the uncultured 
peoples in their attempt to explain and yet the traveler can 
tease out an explanation if he tries. 

Mr. Stefansson 1 writes that he has found out why the Eskimo 
do not punish their children. This may be true and it may not, 
but it is true that he has found out the reason they give, and that 
is perhaps a different matter. 

5. Two more sources of error remain to be noticed, the first of 
which is due to ignorance of language. It is very easy to fall into 
the error of supposing that because a word has not been found, 
none exists. The character of the language of one people is so 
different from that of another that it is next to impossible to 
make any valid argument on the absence of a word. 

6. Finally a sixth sort of writer may be said to be the error due 
to knowledge of language. An illustration may be found in the 
argument of a recent writer made from the manner of designating 
relationships by blood. There is in many primitive languages a 
lack of any word to distinguish brother from cousin, and this 
failure to distinguish brother from cousin, and son from grandson, 
means that the primitive man has such a vague idea of personality 
that he has not been able to make the fine distinctions. We, 
on the other hand, distinguish brother from cousin, and stepson 
from blood kin, etc., therefore we have a much more highly devel- 
oped sense of personality. 

In order to appreciate the native point of view it is necessary 
to call in our primitive psychologist once more. I recall a time 
in the Congo when I had occasion to refer to the tail of a chicken, 
and used the word that was in my notes as meaning "tail." I 
had pointed out the caudal appendage of a dog, and had been 
told that it was called bongongo. This word proved quite intel- 
ligible when I ppalied it to designate the tail of a sheep or a buffalo, 
but when I said something about the bongongo of a chicken, the 
whole company burst out into loud laughter. A chicken is not 
a dog, of course not, and did I not see that a chicken had just 

1 STEFANSSON, V. My Life among the Eskimo. 


feathers sticking out behind and it was not a bongongo at all? 
They called that mpete t of course. Was it really true that white 
people called the feathers of a chicken by the same name that 
they called the real tail of a dog? Later on I found that the 
word for tail of a fish is a very different word from either of the 
other two. 

Now the Eskimo psychologist might, on the basis of these facts, 
write that English-speaking people have such vague, undefined 
notions of tailhood and of spinality that they cannot distinguish 
the difference between the feathers of a chicken and the tail of 
the dog and call both of these by the same name as the steering 
gear of a fish. It is true that Western people distinguish the 
snout of the pig from the lip of a man, and these two from the 
beak of a bird, and all three from the muzzle of a horse, and are 
therefore in a state of evolution which will probably lead them 
to a stage where they can develop a notion of distinction in tails 
in the process of time. I submit that the analogy is fair. 

The sources of error being so many, what methods are to be 
relied upon for dependable results? The answer is that careful, 
painstaking, scientific experiment and inquiry alone will give 
dependable findings. Most of those we now have are not to be 
depended upon. But I wish to direct attention to the subject 
of language. 

The language of the people is a very instructive phenomenon 
giving much information as to the manner of the working of the 
logical processes of those in whose mouths it developed. It does 
not follow, perhaps, that a highly developed language indicates 
a highly developed capacity, for language is inherited and passed 
on, the slave speaking the tongue of the master; but the presence 
of a complete and " scientifically" constructed language would 
make impossible the opposite argument. 

Now, the people of the equatorial Congo speak a language of 
a pronounced agglutinative type, quite typical of the Bantu 
tongues, being complete and developed to a degree surprising to 
those whose conception has been derived from writings of the 
Spencerian variety. A brief account of some of the outstanding 
features of the language will make the matter clear. 

The alliterative concord, which makes this family of languages 
unique among human tongues, consists in a device which indi- 
cates the agreement of the words dependent upon the governing 


noun by means of a prefix attached to verb, adjective, numeral, 
and possessive pronoun, relative, and demonstrative. There is 
no sex gender in the language, but some eight " classes/' or gram- 
matical genders, with an inflection for the plural. Each of the 
sixteen different noun prefixes must be applied to the dependent 
words in the sentence. For example, should I wish to ask the 
question: " Where are those two spoons of mine which you gave 
me?" every word except the verb in the dependent clause would 
have to begin with the plural prefix of totoko (" spoons"), thus: 
"Totoko tonko tokam tofe toki wonkaka tolenko?" 
" Spoons those mine two which you-gave-me where-are-they?" 
Should the question be regarding the whereabouts of an equal 
number of bananas, similarly acquired, the words would be: 
" Banko banko bakam bafe baki wonkaka balenko?" 
" Bananas those mine two which you-gave-me where-are-they?" 
Suppose there is only one banana involved in the inquiry, then 
I should have to ask: 

"Jinko jinko jikam jiki wonkaka jidenko?" 
" Banana that mine which you-gave-me where-is-it?" 
I should ask for two goats given by you and lost by me in the 
following language: 

" Nta inko ikam ife iki wonkaka ilenkof" 
"Goats," etc. 

Should I inquire about canoes, every dependent word must 
begin with fa'-, the prefix for biato; if for sticks, it would be 6e-, the 
prefix of betamba, etc. 

There is a diminutive prefix which can be further diminished 
so that by the form of the noun the degree of littleness can be 
indicated. Likewise there is an augmentative inflection which 
can be still further augmented. Thus the five words, imbwambwa, 
imbwa, mbwa, embwa, embwambwa, mean respectively: " little 
tiny dog," "little dog," "dog," "big dog," and "enormous big 
dog." It is a sort of comparison of nouns. 

The verb is very highly developed and very complex. It con- 
tains the subject of the verb in the form of a pronominal prefix, 
as in Latin. It also has a pronominal syllable to indicate the 
pronominal object, as in Hebrew. But in this family of languages 
there is the indirect object, which is similarly indicated. Akenda, 
"he-is-going"; tokenda, "we-are-going"; wonkunda, "you-are- 


striking-me"; akokunda, "he-is-striking-you"; lonjelza, "you- 
bring-him-to-me" ; baolonjeleza, " they-have-brought-him-to-me." 

By suffixes the shades of meaning of the verb can be changed 
after the analogy of the Hebrew verb form. Thus tunga means 
"to tie or bind"; tungama, "to be bound"; tungya, "to cause to 
bind"; tungela, "to bind for" someone; tungola, "to unbind"; 
tungana, "to bind each other"; yatunga, "to bind oneself"; and 
so on to the number of eight. But there are numbers of permuta- 
tions and combinations of these, as, for example, the causative 
and the dative can be combined in the form tungeza, "to-cause- 
(or help-) to-tie-for" someone; tungoza, " to-help-unbind-f or " 
someone ; tungameza, " to-help-to-place-in-a-bound-state-or-condi- 
tion f or-the-sake-of " someone, and so on to the number of ten 
or twelve. 

Now each of these separate forms is capable of tense and modal 
inflection to the number of at least fourteen tense forms, differing 
in toto from the models of Indo-European tense inflection. There 
are an indefinite present, an immediate future, a distant future, 
an immediate past, a remote past, a continuative past, a past 
with the consequences no longer obtaining, e.g. t nsombaki, 
"I-bought-it (but sold it again)," a "not yet" tense, and various 
ways to introduce negative ideas. 

Examples of the variety of pronoun, tense, and mode in a single 
word would be: ifokokaya, " he-will-surely-give-you " ; aoyatunga, 
"he-has-bound-himself"; aoyatungama, "he-has-placed-himself- 
in-a-bound-condition " ; aoyolokotungamezamaka, " he-has-caused- 
himself-to-be-placed-in-a-bound-condition-f or-y our-sake . ' ' 

The extraordinary development of the verb and the noun is 
compensated for by a corresponding lack in adjective and preposi- 
tions. If we reckon all the agglutinated forms of a transitive 
root like tung- y "bind," including the possible pronominal com- 
binations, there would be more than five thousand different words 
from this root alone. 

There is perhaps only one real preposition, though there are 
nouns for "top," "bottom," etc., which can be used to translate 
"above," "below," etc. The preposition, therefore, is merely a 
connecting particle. 

Adjectives are very slightly developed, the grammatical form 
for "strong" being that of a noun. The word for "hot" is the 


word for "fire," but there is a word for "cold." They do not 
know ice save in the rare occurrence of hailstones. 

Onomatopoetic particles of an undifferentiated character, 
which may be thought of as intermediate between our adverbs, 
adjectives, and interjections, are very numerous. Thus we say 
to a child, "He shot him, bang." Most verbs of action admit of 
such a completing word in the Bantu tongues. 

This word or particle, is in animated discourse, supplied by the 
listener, who fills out a pause with an appropriate inflection on 
the part of the narrator. In the case of an orator making a 
speech, the whole audience responds. The delivery of an oration 
is therefore a very lively performance, in which the native orators 
take great professional delight. In an address I heard once, 
the speaker, describing a hunt, went on to say: 

"I was passing through the forest when suddenly I saw a large 
bird on a tree just above the water of a stream. I took aim with 
my flintlock" "T-e-e-e," said everyone in the audience as the 
speaker went through the motion of aiming "and then" he 
snapped the fingers of his right hand "Kow!" shouted the two 
hundred listeners "and into the water " he stopped and made 
a downward gesture with the hand "Chubu!" ("Splash!") 
sang out the whole company. This peculiarity of conversational 
response may be partly responsible for the successful technique 
of the orators. At any rate they are very enthusiastic public 
speakers, take great delight in it and, when skillful, handle their 
audiences with great art. 

Their number system runs as far as a million. I do not know 
what use they have for that word now, but I think it was needed 
when there was a commerce in beads, now no longer existing. 

Many native proverbs have been recorded by various investi- 
gators, and these are often curiously parallel to those in other 
languages, though there are many not like ours. " No meat with- 
out bone" (No rose without a thorn), "Don't carry fish to the 
riverside" (Carrying coals to Newcastle), "One day won't spoil 
an elephant" (Rome wasn't built in a day). 

These linguistic considerations are presented for the purpose 
of illustrating the statement that the language is at least suffi- 
ciently developed to make impossible any conclusive argument 
of a lack of mental power or ability on account of the lack of 
linguistic development. Particularly noteworthy is the prefer- 


ence for abstract nouns, as, "man of strength." It was formerly 
thought that they could not think abstract thoughts. 

If we consider, as Spencer does, the sensory life, we find the 
usual statements to be that the keen eyes of the savage and his 
extraordinary powers of hearing mark him off from his degenerate 
civilized brother, even if they do place him nearer the lower ani- 
mals in this respect. My own observations among them would 
not bear this out. In a hippopotamus hunt one day the natives 
insisted that there was a herd at the end of an island a mile 
away and paddled through a broiling sun, getting under cover 
of the island and approaching the spot carefully, only to find that 
the supposed ears and nose of the "hippos" were the roots and 
snags of trees. Later on I secured a good pair of field glasses and 
was able to make them out wrong on many occasions. 

The sense of direction that is so often referred to by travelers, 
who assert that they "have a compass in their heads/' is attri- 
butable, in the opinion of several of us who have had experience 
with them, to a mere familiarity with the locality, much as we 
are able to make our way about in a room in utter darkness if it 
is sufficiently familiar. On more than one occasion I have wit- 
nessed very spirited debates between different natives themselves, 
indicating that the compasses in their heads were at least not all 
working together. In Mr. Stefansson's latest book there is an 
account of a difference of opinion between the white man and the 
native in a country strange to both. The later events vindicated 
the opinion of the white man. 

The emotional life of the uncivilized peoples has been written 
about with a great deal of assurance by many anthropologists. 
The older view was that primitive men, being midway between 
man and brute, were characterized by a sort of activity more 
nearly like primitive reflex action. They were less highly evolved 
and therefore less able to have emotions connected with the more 
remote possibilities. They were supposed to be impetuous, like 
children, noisy, excitable. And yet we are able, on the Congo, 
to write contracts for a year at a time and keep large numbers 
of servants and workmen constantly employed with as little 
trouble among the laborers as we would expect to encounter here 
at home. They were said to be characterized by improvidence 
and a lack of the feeling of ownership, but the Congo natives eat 
cassava as the principal article of breadstuff, and this requires 


fully nine months in which to mature quite as long as wheat 
and longer than any other of our ordinary foodstuffs. 

The inhibition of impulses is supposed to be one of the best 
indexes of mentality. Feeble-minded children are unable to 
choose between two offered objects because they cannot appar- 
ently suppress the impulse to seize the nearest. The savage has 
been said to be under the same limitation. And yet it is alto- 
gether probable that he would be the first to accuse the white 
men whom he knows of just this fault. The white man comes 
into the tropics with exaggerated ideas of the importance of get- 
ting things done on schedule. When people do not move as fast 
as he wishes, he often loses control of himself and raves and fumes 
quite like a spoiled child. The African would be able to insist 
that it is the white man who has no control of himself. 

The taboos of savage life are many and complex. They are 
habitually well observed. And when it is remembered that the 
taboos are prohibitions on practices that are attractive and 
which the agent wishes to engage in, it will be seen that mastery 
of the impulses is required to be able to resist. 

As to imitativeness, it is not at all apparent that the savage is 
more imitative than others. We adopt the ways of the people 
in the group which we admire and which we are trying to attain 
to, but with the ways and methods of another group we do not 
concern ourselves. The savage will adopt a new garment of 
civilization when he has commenced to admire the group of civi- 
lized men with whom he has been associated, but there are many 
irreconcilables in every group of primitive people who flatly 
refuse to touch any of the accursed foreigner's things. It may 
be said that we imitate other people when we wear neckties or 
stiff collars or other by-products of fashion, but it would be per- 
haps a better statement to say that we respond to a demand for 
this sort of thing. 

Now, most of the examples of imitation in the savages of my 
acquaintance could appropriately be classed in this category. 
When they wear foreign clothes, it is because they admire the 
group that wears them and seek to secure some measure of 
identification arid incorporation with that group. They secure 
guns, not from a desire to imitate, but from a desire to hunt and 
fight successfully. They build better huts or even construct real 
houses, because they see a certain advantage in this procedure, 


and not on account of mere imitation. It is, at most, rational 

The most positive statements of the psychology of the savage 
have been made with reference to his reasoning power. It seems 
a very natural and defensible conclusion that, since exact science 
as we know it does not exist among them, they have an inferior 
ability in reasoning. At least they lack a sufficiently developed 
reasoning faculty to meet the needs of their life. 

It will, of course, be apparent that the modern experimental 
method which originated with Galileo and his generation did not 
originate independently among the present-day savages. But 
the power of forming hypotheses to account for difficulties is as 
readily observed among them as among us. 

The quantitative conceptions have entered but slightly into 
their life. Cloth is measured by fathoms, the outstretched arms 
of the seller sufficing for a measure, but there is no measure of 
weight. The volume of oil that is sold is measured by the potful, 
but there is no rigid standard of size. 

There is no formal drill in numbers, as there is no formal drill 
in anything, but I tried a lad once with the idea of discovering 
whether he could tell nine times nine. " If nine pieces of cassava 
cost nine brass rods each, how much would they all cost?" After 
the inevitable argument that they did not cost nine rods each, 
but could be bought anywhere at five rods each, he finally yielded 
the point and agreed for argument's sake, and then set out to 
try to find the solution. He took nine sticks and placed them 
on the ground, breaking the last one into nine pieces. He then 
placed one of these pieces on each of the other sticks, and found 
that he had eight whole sticks and one piece left over, so he 
announced that the result was eighty-one. 

The importance that should be given to the social forces in 
the psychology of a race can be well illustrated by consider- 
ing the emotional character of Negro religion. Davenport 1 
classes the wild extravagances which may still be observed 
in certain groups of whites as " primitive," and matches 
them with similar accounts of the activities of present-day 

The facts are, of course, not in dispute. The American Negro 
is emotional in religion and the accounts that have been handed 

1 DAVENPORT, F. M., Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals. 


down in the literature are substantially accurate. In a typical 
Negro revival meeting there is, as a rule, a minimum of thought 
in the sermon. The exhortation consists often of a chant with a 
violent appeal to the emotions of the hearers and lurid imagery. 
If the appeal is successful, some of the audience are affected by it. 
They begin to respond in rhythmic movements or in crooning 
chants or loud shoutings. There is often an epidemic, and large 
numbers are affected simultaneously. Sometimes the whole con- 
gregation gets religion, and multitudes are " slain before the 

The assumption that is made to explain these facts is that such 
manifestations are native to the savage mind and are explicable 
as manifestations of the Negro's lack of resistance to stimuli and 
to his general imitativeness. 

It seems that the facts can be explained better without appeal- 
ing to the native African endowment. The social situation in 
which the American Negro found himself has, in all probability, 
furnished the pattern by means of which he was guided in his 
religious life. Extravagant as the reactions are, they can all be 
matched by others just as remarkable in the white race that was 
the teacher of the black. In Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1803, 
20,000 white people were gathered together for the great revival 
services, where they stayed till the provisions in the district were 
exhausted, and they were then compelled to disperse. There 
were the most exciting manifestations of religious conversion. 
Some had the " jerks" and could not control their muscles. 
Others would take hold of the young trees and twist the bark off 
in their excitement. 

Until the last twenty-five years the customary way of carrying 
on religious activities in the rural South was to have more or less 
perfunctory services during the fall, winter, and spring, with 
many interruptions in the winter on account of the weather, but 
to concentrate attention on the summer revival or " camp-meet- 
ing." At most of these it was the custom to appoint "holding 
committees," not financial organizations, but more apathetic 
individuals who would undertake to hold the shouters and pre- 
vent damage during their exercises. As late as twenty years 
ago, one could be pretty sure of seeing someone "shout" at the 
revivals of the white people, but the custom has practically died 
out at present. 


The practice among the whites having disappeared so com- 
pletely, it would be significant to inquire whether the Negro 
churches are correspondingly affected. And this turns out to be 
the case. A friend of mine visiting the South took the first 
opportunity (and this was fifteen years ago) of visiting a Negro 
church for the purpose of hearing some of the plaintive Negro 
music that the " jubilee singers" had popularized. He came 
away disgusted with what he had heard, for the choir had given 
as the main rendition on the program a selection from an oratorio, 
"The Heavens Are Telling." The theory of my friend was that 
this last was a servile and unworthy imitation, and that they had 
been quite original in their former emotional Christianity. 

But even these facts are not, perhaps, conclusive, for it may be 
thought that the psychology of the American Negro is gradually 
undergoing a change in his new environment, due to physical 
changes of an anatomical nature, the result, in turn, of the differ- 
ent physical conditions under which the race is now situated. 
In this connection the form taken by the Christianity of present- 
day converts to missionary activity ought to be instructive. 

Within a radius of ten miles in one district on the Upper Congo 
there have been three distinct types of Christianity observable. 
The original church at Equatorville was founded by men of a 
rather liberal turn, who allowed the largest liberty to the native 
converts in working out the problems of polygamy and slavery 
and the use of tobacco. This was succeeded by a very strictly 
legalistic type of teaching, in which the number of forbidden 
practices rivaled the native taboos and were, in fact, regarded 
substantially as substituted taboos very much as has been 
described by Mr. Stefansson in Alaska, where the people put 
away their nets on Sunday because it was the Sabbath day, and 
proceeded to fish with hook and line. 

The third type of religion in the Congo was very different from 
either of the others, being the result of the preaching and instruc- 
tion of a company of Trappist monks whose emphasis was put 
on relics and ceremonial observations. The type of religion 
observable in the village resembles quite closely, at least in its 
superficial aspect, what one sees in rural Portugal or Belgium. 

The most significant thing in this connection is that the religion 
of the three churches above referred to was in no case emotional 
to any marked degree. I have yet to observe anything resem- 


bling excitement in the whole phenomenon of the conversion of a 
people to Christianity in Africa. The mission was and is a 
decided success. There are now more than five thousand con- 
verts, and the seriousness with which they take their religion is 
evidenced by the statement that this company is at present 
employing nearly three hundred adult evangelists, paying them 
a living support, and keeping them going all the time. But their 
reaction to Christianity has taken a form decidedly theological, 
and they can argue and debate like any one of our modern polemic 

A reasonable explanation would assume that the pattern from 
which their conceptions of the new religion were taken was the 
determing factor in the reaction. The American Negro is emo- 
tional in religion on account of the type of religion which his 
teachers possessed when he adopted the faith. He is rapidly 
changing this, owing to the corresponding change that has taken 
place in the superior social group. The Congo African would 
become as emotional as the slaves were before the war if the Holy 
Rollers were to go among them and establish congregations. 

The hypothesis that has been forming, therefore, in recent 
years concerning the mind of so-called primitive man, meaning 
the uncivilized races of the present day, is that in native endow- 
ment the savage child is, on the average, about the same in capac- 
ity as the child of civilized races. Instead of the concept of 
different stages or degrees of mentality, we find it easier to think 
of the human mind as being, in its capacity, about the same every- 
where, the difference in culture to be explained in terms of the 
physical geography, or the stimuli from other groups, or the 
unaccountable occurrence of great men. But this is only a 
hypothesis. It has not been proved. It may well be that differ- 
ences in anatomical structure can be correlated with differences 
in mental capacity. One would suppose that the size or weight 
of the brain could be so correlated. The difficulty is in finding 
a crucial test. To measure the achievements of the tribes in 
their own habitat is inconclusive, and to import youths into our 
schools is to fail to isolate the years of childhood which recent 
psychology considers the most potent in their influence on the 
after life. 

Much light could be thrown on the problem by going to the 
villages and making detailed mental and physical tests. The 


expedition to Torres Straits by the Cambridge University Expe- 
dition, and later to the Todas in India, was a good beginning. A 
little was done with the natives who were at the St. Louis Exposi- 
tion in 1904. The evidence was in the direction of the conclu- 
sion suggested by this chapter, but the tests were admittedly 

In the first place, the natives at the World's Fair were too few 
in number and selected on the wrong principle to be representa,- 
tive. Secondly, the tests were merely for sense-organ acuity, 
vision, color-blindness, and auditory ability. Since 1904 a great 
deal of progress has been made in establishing the norm of mental 
ability in many other direction. A third reason for the incon- 
clusive character of the tests lies in the fact that the investigators 
in the cases mentioned were all instances ignorant of the language 
and had to rely on interpreters or the use of " pidgin English." 

If an expedition could be made to the equatorial Congo in charge 
of one who could speak the language readily and who was also 
trained in psychology technique, and if records could be obtained 
of the mental and physical ability of, say, one thousand or fifteen 
hundred properly distributed individuals, it would be possible 
to be far more positive on the general question than we are at 
the present time. 



The standpoint of this discussion can, perhaps, be made clear 
if the assumptions are first announced. It is assumed that cul- 
ture and personality are correlative terms; that to know the 
culture of a people is to know the types of personalities to be 
found within it; and that to know the personalities is to under- 
stand the culture. These two products of human life are twin- 
born. Culture is the collective side of personality; personality, 
the subjective aspect of culture. Society with its usages and 
personalities with their variations are but two ways of looking 
at human life. 

It is further assumed that these two concepts are not to be 
thought of as arranged in a causal sequence. Personalities do 
not cause culture, nor does culture produce personality. Inter- 
action, interstimulation, interlearning are continuous, and per- 
sonalities are always affecting culture, and culture is always 
modifying personality. It would appear that society does not 
mold the individual, for molding is too passive a term. Indi- 
viduals do not produce a culture, for collective life has its own 
laws and its own procedure. Society and the individual, culture 
and personality: both are useful and necessary abstractions made 
sometimes at will, forced sometimes upon the student as he tries 
to understand the phenomena before him. 

And yet a sequence is assumed, if not causal, at least temporal. 
All culture can be assumed to arise out of a former culture or 
some blend or combination of more than one. Similarly, all 
personal ties are organized from the contact with other person- 
alties and cultural forms. But in any particular instance, in the 
consideration of any one individual personality, it is here assumed 
that personality arises subsequently to a specific cultural system. 
The priority of culture seems to be not only a demonstrable fact; 
it is a heuristic principle of great utility. The personality is not 



formed on the basis of innate tendencies; it is organized on the 
basis of the cultural milieu, appearing to him as coercive, timeless, 
and omnipotent. Ethnological studies have no more important 
lesson to teach the sociologist than the lesson of the almost 
limitless adaptability of the human animal. Given an uncon- 
tradicted cultural medium and we can see that the powerful 
drives of hunger, sex, and even the will to live are as nothing if 
they run counter to the mores. Confirmation of this is familiar 
to us all. Voluntary fasting, voluntary celibacy, voluntary 
mutilation and torture, voluntary suicide examples abound to 
show the irresistibility of the cultural model. One can no more 
organize his personality independently than he can be born with- 
out a mother. 

The Congo Bantu of the Equatorial Rain Forest have a culture 
which has come down to them from a past as distant as our own. 
At present they are also in contact with a high type of modern 
capitalistic industry. Two streams of influence converge upon 
them. The village life with its simple economy, its richness of 
ritual, and its ordered grades of prestige and influence is one stream. 
The other is the modern city, objective, impersonal, individualis- 
tic, with monetary forces and aims, not to speak of the forms of 
law and the coercive power of an omnipotent, even if benevolent, 
despotism. Such a sharp contrast has few parallels in all the 
world. So sudden an exposure would be difficult to find on a 
comparable scale in any period. It is hardly too much to say 
that nowhere in the history of the world has there occurred so 
great a change over so large an area in so short a time. A numeri- 
cal detail will aid in bringing the point clearly before you. In 
1914 the foreign commerce of the colony, imports and exports, 
amounted to some 229 millions of francs. Seven years later, 
in 1921, this amount had more than doubled, 490 millions. In 
1929 the figure was 3,480, an increase of 1,400 per cent within 
a period of fifteen years. 

Neither the native nor the traveler sees the graphs and curves 
of the statistician, but he does see the capital city of the colony 
transformed from a military post with a few compounds, near a 
village of 800 natives, into a modern city of 40,000 population 
with all the metropolitan institutions: banks and hotels, cine- 
mas and taxicabs, factories and department stores, and two daily 
papers. Nearly a thousand miles up the river, just on the equa- 


tor, another city of 20,000 with more banks, department stores, 
a cathedral, street lights, theater, hospitals, and schools. A 
thousand miles farther on still another city even larger and more 
important, while in the southeast Elizabethville rivals the capital 
in importance, including its daily press. All of this in a little 
more than a decade of years. Smaller establishments and centers 
exist, all connected by telegraph, by rail and river, by airplane 
and motor roads. No native village in the million square 
miles is unaffected by the influence. All have been profundly 

He who would understand the relation of personality and cul- 
ture among these forest Bantu must, then, take into account the 
violently contrasting streams of influence. When West meets 
East we must draw a parallelogram of forces. 

There is, of course, a gradient. Within the city are seen city 
types and striking modifications. Near the city the influences 
are strong. In the remote villages they are naturally weakest. 
But the foreign influence is ubiquitous. 

If the original village culture be pictured it presents elements 
not unfamiliar to students. Small kinship groups, sessile, agri- 
cultural, hunting, fishing, with chickens, goats, and dogs. There 
are weaving, pottery, iron mining, smelting and forging, besides 
woodworking done by clever carvers. 

Isolation, though essentially a negative term, suggests the 
key to much of the collective life of these Bantu. The dense 
growth of the Great Forest permits only tortuous and difficult 
foot trails, and this difficulty of communication effectually pre- 
vented any predatory or rapacious group from conquest. The 
political units are, therefore, small. They are hardly political 
units at all in the modern sense, for the elders of what we may 
term their gerontochracy seem to have no official authority, 
though possessed of high prestige and great influence. The 
classic notion, still prevalent in popular writers like H. G. Wells 
and revived by McDougall and by the psychoanalysts, who seem 
to cast their nets in all waters, assumes a strong ruler in the small 
groups who clubs his way into authority. There is nothing in 
this save the inaccuracy of the suggestion. An old woman will 
have more power in her querulous voice than the strongest warrior 
fully armed. Not strength but age and wisdom are deferred to, 
and the deference of the younger to the older is everywhere 


important, even extending to the young in their relations with 
each other. 

The details of their life, the exact methods of cultivating the 
soil, of working their iron, their pottery, the elaborate "drum" 
language, the ceremonies, both serious and playful, and the rest 
of their culture offer material for him who seeks to reconstruct 
their history. They are of little importance for the present 
inquiry into the relation of the personality and the culture. 
What seems to be most relevant can be stated in more general 
terms, terms which also apply to hundreds of small tribes in 
many parts of the world. Such descriptive terms turn out to 
be comparisons, and the most useful comparisons, at least 
here, are negations. So we may point out certain aspects of 
these cultures in a series of words compounded with the prefix 
"pre-," meaning "before/ 7 or "not yet." Therefore we can 
say that they are preliterate, prescientific, pre-industrial, and 

The Phoenician alphabet traveled west and north but did not 
penetrate these isolated regions. They are preliterate, not 
because they cannot learn to read and to write but because they 
had no opportunity. Now, when scribes make and preserve 
books, a profound change comes upon a society and the whole 
character of their culture undergoes momentous alterations. 
Preliterate peoples have not added that increment. And until 
they do have it there are certain important ways in which they 
differ from those who have letters. 

The first of these concerns the realm of time and space. A 
people without a history is like a man without a memory, and no 
people has a history unless it is written. The time span possible 
to consciousness hardly transcends the memory of the oldest 
elder. No writing, no calendar, and no meaning in an arithmeti- 
cal statement of years, for there are no years. Our fathers a few 
generations ago could look back in historical retrospect for only 
6,000 years, while we now have the modern span of billions. Our 
most recent acquisition is our distant past. But even 6,000 years 
is something definite. Preliterates have no years at all. With- 
out writing, the normal myopia is unassisted and the horizon of 
time is narrowed as in a mist. 

It is true also of space. There is the forest, and there is the 
river, and back in the forest and up and down the river are other 


peoples, but there is little knowledge and less curiosity. There 
is neither a word for world nor any felt need of one. How much 
we are indebted to maps and globes and geographical writings 
would be hard to overstate. 

This lack of ordered schemes of things extends beyond the 
material world of geography into the spiritual world that has to 
do with a moral order. In this sphere, also, there is no cosmos. 
There is no fixed system, no definite theology or cosmology. 
Religious observations and ceremonies there are, as sponta- 
neous as Christmas in America, and myths that explain are 
told. But it is ethnocentrism to identify these myths with 

Therefore, there are no religious heretics. The rebel in religion 
is unknown; he is even impossible. How can one fight against 
the prevailing theological system when there is no real system 
to which one can object? New myths brought from stranger 
tribes or introduced by foreign wives are as welcome as a well- 
written foreign novel would be to a civilized people. Who would 
care to reject an interesting and attractive novelty? And, 
although their current beliefs and practices seem good, they do 
not always succeed, so the new is worth trying. 

This hospitality is all very well when it receives the products of 
other preliterate societies. But when the book religions enter 
the arena, the old culture encounters a tragic fate. Whether it 
be Mohammedan, Catholic, or Protestant, it is a religion of a 
book. It is a system, dogmatic, absolute, infallible, with all the 
answers to all the questions which the native culture has asked 
but could not answer. This explains the quick success of the 
missionary propaganda and the early death of the native religious 
culture. For when could uncertainty contend with assurance? 
He who is quite in doubt as to where his soul may go after death 
has nothing to say when the book tells so plainly of the eternal 

Being preliterate, their culture, is, of course, prescientific ; 
which chiefly means that there is in it much magic. Events 
cannot be thought to occur according to the law of nature if 
there be no conception of nature. For nature as a concept 
appears only after reflection, accumulated and funded in the 
recorded thoughts of men. L6vy-BruhPs recent book on the 
natural and the supernatural among primitive people misses 


just this point, for the preliterates have no conception of the 

To say that the culture is magical does not mean that all things 
are held to be animate or endowed with mystic power. There 
are, indeed, omens and portents, signs and wonders, ordeals, 
charms, amulets, talismans as well as magical ceremonies to 
ensure food, avoid sickness, gain success in war. In the inimical 
and the helpful, the bizarre and surprising, the magical attitude is 
seen, but most of their life goes on with the aid of common-sense 
technique. In most acts they manifest keen, logical, analytic 
reasoning. It would appear that there was almost as widespread 
a belief in magic at the court of Louis XIV as today in the Great 
Forest. There was probably quite as much magic in the Rome of 
Augustus Caesar as now on the Congo. Magic has no relation 
or correlation either with intelligence or high civilization. Sci- 
entific cultures are non-magical; prescientific cultures are magical. 
Magic appears to be a group of culture complexes, universal 
among men until the introduction of dependable methods of 
scientific control. Man and the forces around him cannot find 
a neutral relation: either they control him, or he controls them. 

And since magic and science are incompatible, they are not to 
be identified. Magic differs in being uncritical, lacking a method, 
being devoid of certainty and incapable of proof. It rests on 
faith, on tradition, on prestige. It is, therefore, essentially social 
or collective, whereas science is preeminently individual. So 
while science gives confidence and certainty, magic dwells along- 
side of fear. Missionaries who think to overcome magic by 
religion have little reason to hope for success. Religion as intro- 
duced may substitute new taboos for old, provide new spirits to 
be addressed, but it affects little the older attitudes toward the 
unseen. It is science that cuts the very root of magic, and when 
applied science offers control of nature, magic withers and dies. 

Pre-industrial the Bantu surely were, though the flood of 
capitalistic invasion is bringing them suddenly into contact with 
factories, wheels, and machines. The contrast is obvious, and 
there is a possibility that the transition may be accomplished 
with some less degree of demoralization. 

It is more significant for personality to understand that the 
Forest Bantu are pre-individualistic. Unwritten mores in a 
constant and homogeneous stream of influence define the situa- 


tions and their conduct. No one is forced to take a stand against 
popular opinion or to stand alone for the right. No one lives 
alone, and there are no books to give variant notions. Conflicts 
and differences occur, but friends, or the assembled elders, are 
at hand to arbitrate, and loneliness as modern men know it has 
not yet come to them. Civilization is just around the corner 
from them, but at present this aspect is one of the most striking 
differences. I am inclined to look here for the most probable 
explanation of a rather remarkable discovery, to be discussed in 
detail presently : the absence of our well-known forms of insanity. 

Generalizations about so-called primitive people occur very 
widely in the literature of sociology and anthropology. It is 
temptingly easy to make generalizations: it is very difficult to 
prove them. In this field it is hardly too much to say that no 
one has had any scientific warrant for any of the many general 
statements. But, in spite of this, they exist and continue to be 

One thinks of Herbert Spencer, of Lvy-Bruhl, of Sigmund 
Freud, not one of whom has had any real acquaintance with a 
single one of the thousands of tribes. Spencer's conclusions have 
been fatally criticized by scholars, but his views are accepted 
to this day in some degree by missionary, trader, government 
official, and the man in the street. It is the view that mental 
inferiority of the personalities is the true explanation of the 
cultural inferiority of the collective group. They can perceive, 
he says, but they cannot reason. They have emotional power 
but no effective stability or power of inhibition. And, most 
important of all, they lack the power of abstract thought, from 
which all invention and progress must derive. 

Lvy-Bruhl argues at length against the whole English school, 
from Spencer to Frazer, and insists that we have not a question 
of degree but of kind not inferior reasoning power or arguments 
from poor premises, but prelogical minds that do not argue at all. 
"The concepts of primitive minds are not at all like our own. 
They have a different mentality." It is because they depend on 
memory and have pre-logical mentality that there is no progress. 

Freud's statements about primitive life are even more familiar. 
As among us, it is the custom among them for the children to be 
born of female mothers and to suck their milk from that mam- 
malian source. This biological necessity is said to cause an 


inevitable personality conflict. No escape exists from the 
incestuous longing, and jealousy of one's father and hatred 
against his tyrannical presence is made more serious when sub- 
jected to censorious repression. Personal experience, therefore, 
explains both totem and taboo and the play is the tragedy "Man." 
But though generalizations are hard to prove, disproof is easier. 
Spencer's arguments have been often refuted and many of his 
facts questioned. Perhaps it will be fitting only to add regarding 
abstract thought that stories and proverbs do abound telling of 
the nature and effects of love, jealousy, envy, pity, generosity, 
ingratitude, and injustice, for all of which abstractions and many 
more there exist words and synonyms. On hearing that a man 
had been fined unjustly by his employer, one said: 

"You may take a necklace from a baby 
But not the palm-seed he is playing with/' 

L6vy-Bruhl has also been opposed by those who have written 
of these matters. Most of the discussion has to do with analogous 
behavior among modern peoples, among whom it can be shown 
that fixed ideas exist and collective representations abound. On 
the field, the statements seem to be without validity. Houses 
are built, hunts organized, and battles are planned with every 
attention to logical sequence and due regard to cause and effect. 
Magical beliefs and practices do not cover the whole of life. To 
accumulate enough property to provide a bride-price for an 
advantageous marriage for one's son involves as much careful 
reasoning and weighing of consequences as the launching of a 
joint stock company. Hunger, love, and danger are very real, 
but they have no routine. To meet emergencies requires wit 
and cleverness, and these are abundantly in evidence. Field 
notes abound in facts which all tend to show that where the 
routine is prescribed by tradition the individual person falls 
back on collective representations, just as the Romans did when 
they examined the liver of the sacrifice to see if it were auspicious 
to go to war, or the Russian peasant who did not plant his field 
till the land was blessed and the weeds cursed by the priest. In 
1898 the Spanish ships were sprinkled with holy water to make 
them safe. But when individual problems arise among the 
Forest People, there is a premium on ingenuity and cleverness 


and reasoning power. Wanya, or keen intelligence, is highly 

As to the Freudian's easy solutions, the evidence is all against 
them. The father is not a tyrant and never punishes his children. 
The maternal uncle has a special status and function, but it is 
difficult to find the concept of authority applicable. The uncle 
is indulgent to the point of being imposed upon. If Bona wa 
Nkana, child of my sister, wants my bicycle I shall probably 
find that he has taken it without asking. If he needs money, he 
does not steal it from me but asks for it and always gets it. In 
a polygamous society the monopolization of the sexual favors of 
one's mother by the father can hardly have the same effect as 
under monogamy. Moreover, divorce and remarriage are very 
frequent and would add another modifying factor. Whatever 
the causes, mental abnormality is practically non-existent. 

It would seem that the errors of these three writers can all be 
brought under a common erroneous assumption as to the relation 
of culture and personality. Spencer and Lvy-Bruhl assume that 
cultural forms are the result of intellectual capacity or mental 
quality. Freud likewise would account for cultural forms and 
social disorder by a theory of individual infantile experience. 
This is a persistent error. The vanishing instinct psychology 
of McDougall is grounded on the same assumption. Indeed, 
it would be difficult to account for the low degree of cultural 
advance if high civilization be due to superior minds. The 
syllogism is indeed correct: All people with minds equal to ours 
or like them will produce a high civilization; these people have 
not produced such a civilization; therefore, they are inferior or 
different. But if we deny the first promise, the argument falls. 
Instincts do not produce the institutions. Culture precedes the 
individual. A low degree of culture may contain many gifted 
men of the highest endowments. 

Another error common to the assumptions of the first two of 
our authors appears to be in the theory of change or progress. 
They take change to be a datum and progressive improvement 
to be a law of human society. The whole argument rests on 
this: Normally intelligent people are constantly moving toward 
progress and improvement; these people do not progress; there- 
fore they are not normally intelligent. There is a serious ques- 
tion as to the truth of the first of these statements, for it would 
seem there is nothing in culture that necessarily leads to change. 


Wherever there is change there is the problem for sociologists. 
The essential inertia in culture is neglected or unrecognized by 
many students of society but seems to be borne out by our data. 
Crises bring change, but without crises culture reproduces itself 
true to type. The maelstrom of our modern civilization so 
abounds in crises that it is not easy to see how other peoples can 
lack them. Yet, relatively, they do lack them. 

A way might be found to bring the argument to a test. If 
the children and youth of these tribesmen should be subjected 
to the type of education and experience which is brought to 
moderns, it would soon appear whether the cultural differences 
are due to personality deficiences. And fortunately for the argu- 
ment, at least, this is actually going on in the Great Forest. With 
what results? One can see young men from these villages who 
are postal clerks, telegraph operators, typists, automobile 
mechanics, steamer engineers and captains, engineers of electric 
light installations, operators of calculating machines, and gradu- 
ates of theological seminaries with courses in philosophy and 
mastery of the Latin tongue. The new culture has produced new 

Two results of the expedition seem almost to deserve to be 
called discoveries. The first concerns the sociology of race 
exclusion. Scattered among the Bantus are symbiotic villages 
of Pygmies who live apart, have commercial relations, and assist 
their Bantu neighbors in their fights with hostile villages, but 
they have no social intercourse with them. There is no language 
barrier, the Pygmy language being adopted from their neighbors. 
For some reason, there is not very much difference in stature, 
owing, it may be, to a better food supply. But the social barrier 
is absolute. No Bantu will visit a Pygmy in his house; eating 
with a Pygmy is unthinkable; and intermarriage is abominable. 
So far there is nothing new, and similar conditions could be found 
in Mississippi or California. But one important difference 

On visiting the Pygmy villages I became impressed with their 
keenness of intellect, native shrewdness, and essentially high 
mentality. I was inclined to rate them quite as high as their 
Bantu neighbors. On venturing to suggest to groups of Bantus 
this opinion, I was met with unquestioning assent. The com- 
mon opinion of the Bantus was: The Pygmies are strong and 
agile physically, rather superior to us mentally, and decidedly 


more moral. It was a surprise to find rigid exclusion with no 
rationalization or depreciation. Non-intercourse without race 
prejudice is surely so rare that it raises a fascinating problem. 
Perhaps, if one were to guess, the explanation may lie in the 
absence of any form of competition, but whatever the explana- 
tion the fact seemed very striking. 

The other discovery was the relative absence of insanity, 
already mentioned. Four large hospitals were visited, and 
inquiries were made as to the extent of schizophrenia and manic- 
depressive psychoses. These hospitals are in or near the cities 
and draw from large areas. They have been established several 
years. No records of any such cases existed, nor was there any 
memory on the part of those of the staff of any such cases. In 
the villages attempts were made to describe the symptoms to 
the natives, but no comprehension of such disorders was found. 
There were, indeed, certain stereotyped forms of hysteria among 
women. Also there were manias due to infectious diseases, but 
no insanity was revealed. To say that there is no case of our 
two chief forms of insanity in this region is not possible. But 
it is true that a careful and persistent inquiry failed to reveal a 
single case or any record or memory of one. Therefore, it can 
be asserted that such disorders are very rare and possibly do not 

It would be tempting to venture an explanation. Much more 
work is needed before this would be warranted, but the suggestion 
that the social life offers the key to the riddle is very attractive. 
They are pre-individualistic. Sharp competition, feelings of 
inferiority, the mechanisms of projection and reference, and the 
delusions of persecution belong to a society like ours where the 
swordfish alone can swim in security. The Bantu always has 
his friends. It is impossible for them to conceive of a man on 
the street asking food of strangers. Perhaps the solution of the 
problem may take some such form as this. 

The results of the information obtained on the trip to the field 
thus bear out the assumptions and hypotheses concerning the 
relation of culture and personality. It was to be expected. 
This is what usually happens. To keep one's mind open is so 
difficult that few of us succeed. Whether what was found was 
previsaged can be determined only by others less interested. Of 
the scientist no less than the Christian is it true that we have 
our treasure in earthen vessels. 


When Rasmussen returned to Etah after a journey to the north 
of Greenland, he heard from the Eskimos the news of the World 
War. "And the fighting still goes on/' they told him, "and the 
white men are all killing each other. It may be that ships will 
come no more to the Land of Men." The Eskimos regard them- 
selves as distinctly superior to the men of any other race. So, 
also, do the Bantus, the Maoris, the Melanesians, the Todas, 
the Chinese, Germans, Americans, and Nordics. If we, then, 
being civilized know what it is to be ethnocentric, how much more 
shall we be on our guard when we try to maintain a scientific 
attitude toward the question of the course of human develop- 
ment which has lasted just to this present time and which seems 
to have converged upon us as a goal. 

Social evolution is a difficult subject to discuss without bias, 
for it is often used as a synonym for social progress to which it 
is indeed closely related. Like immortality and democracy, 
progress is believed in because it is desired. While it refers 
primarily to the past, it cannot be unmindful of the future; it is 
at once a record and a prophecy, or at least a hope. 

Social evolution cannot be discussed without a discussion of 
primitive man, and primitive man was dead and gone long before 
anyone ever seriously discussed anything. And since primitive 
man could not be found when the discussion started, he had to be 
invented. In the mythologies of all races he may be found, but 
the fantastic records have chiefly a literary value. Of course, 
mythology furnishes certain indirect evidence concerning the 
mental and emotional life of a people, but we treat the material 
as illustrating the wishes, nothing more. However, not only in 
the myths did this invented primitive man have an imagined 
existence, for in the seventeenth century he became a scientific 
hypothesis, being described as gentle and innocent in the books 
of Rousseau, cruel and selfish in the books of Hobbes, quite 



unformed in the books of Locke, while he is quite worthless to us 
in the books of them all. 

Scientific study of primitive man got a bad start, for it took a 
false lead. In the nineteenth century primitive man was sup- 
posed to exist in the static and congealed cultures of uncivilized 
peoples such as the natives of Australia, Central Africa, and 
Melanesia. It took a long time and involved a great waste of 
effort before it finally became clear to all that none of these peoples 
are primitive, for their culture is a real culture and is very old, 
their languages are rich and complex, their blood is everywhere 
mixed, and real primitive man must be sought elsewhere than 
among peoples now existing. 

And then they dug for him. What little we do know about 
him is the result of the work of the archeologist, whose patient 
effort has built up a structure giving us a picture of what took 
place in northwestern Europe but leaves all the rest of the planet 
in darkness. Many facts force the hypothesis of Asia as the 
original home of the race, but few remains of the early handiwork 
have been found there. 

A conservative estimate of the oldest remains of our own species 
is 25,000 years, though some authorities would double and others 
would treble this estimate. But other species of the genus homo 
have left a few bones which go back very much farther yet. 
Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) men lived in France, Spain, and other 
parts of western Europe and the gradual advance in their tech- 
nique of working the rough stones has been represented in the 
accepted divisions into periods, of which the following six have 
been quite generally recognized, with various subdivisions not 
so generally agreed upon. The Chellean, Acheulean, Mousterian, 
Solutrean, Aurignacian, and Magdalenian, are named from the 
places in France where the deposits were found, sometimes in 
the gravel beds or " drift" and at other times in caves. It is 
possible to assert a definite advance or evolution from the first 
of these through the series, but some of the changes may be due 
to the sudden incursion of a stranger folk. Indeed, the Mous- 
terian and the two preceding deposits are generally assumed to 
be the work of another species than ours. The Magdalenian 
flints, however, were left by the Cro-Magnon people, whose 
bones have been recovered in sufficient numbers to warrant the 
statement that they were perhaps physically superior to any 


existing race of men, being taller in stature and having a larger 
brain capacity than any modern race. Their mural paintings 
executed two hundred and fifty centuries ago may still be seen 
and are the wonder and admiration of all who know them. But 
whence these people came into France and Spain and why and 
how they disappeared guess who will, for there are no 

Following the men of the Old Stone Age came the Neolithic 
(New Stone Age) people, who polished and ground the edges of 
their axes, knew of fields and grain, and erected houses and 
built huge stone structures which still remain to puzzle us and 
pique our curiosity. But it is not clear, indeed it seems a bit 
unlikely, that the Neolithic men were the same tribes as the men 
of the Old Stone Age, and the setting forth of the separate stages 
of progress from rough to polished stone may be, after all, merely 
the record of the different migrations into western Europe; it 
no more proves or even describes evolution and progress than 
the description of the culture of newly arrived immigrants into 
America proves that we are rapidly becoming illiterate. 

It is possible to describe, after the Neolithic, a Cyprolithic 
stage or age, when copper was worked like stone, just as today 
the Andaman Islanders work iron, cold, as they do their shells. 
And then the bronze age is reached, where the addition of tin 
hardened the metal till it was a good tool, so good that it was in 
use down to the Homeric age, so difficult that it was not used or 
arrived at by most of the peoples in the west or in the islands. 
With bronze the curtain of civilization is rung up, but the story 
of the origin of these improvements is yet to be told, if ever it 
can be told. 

Whether the flint workers of France ever went back to Egypt or 
had any connection with their original home, we know not, but 
we do know that by the time a city arose in the Nile valley the 
human glacier had been covering North and South America for 
six thousand years, the Mongoloid and Negroid races had not 
only covered the other continents and islands, had not only 
been separated long enough to be differentiated, but had also 
mingled their blood till the problem of the complete classification 
of the races of the earth is one of the most difficult in modern 
science. There is no generally accepted classification which 
includes all the families of men. 


The theory of a gradual and continuous evolution assumes 
progress upward, due to inherent forces in a people living alone. 
Another and competing theory insists that isolated homogeneous 
peoples tend to become stagnant and fixed in their organization 
and that the key to change is to be sought in social contacts due 
to whatever cause, especially such as migration, invasion, or 
other forms of interaction. 

At the present time the conception is a controversial one, and 
the difficulties met in the effort to make the formulation appealing 
are very real and very stubborn. Those who oppose the orthodox 
view of progress or evolution are engaged in trying to substitute 
objectivity for evaluation. It is interesting to recall, in this 
connection, that the idea of progress is a modern one. It has 
been so widely held in our time that it comes to many as a sur- 
prise when they learn how recently it came into its formulation. 
Let us glance at a history of the idea. 

Preliterate peoples, having a social organization handed down 
traditionally by oral transmission, were not concerned with the 
relation of the present to the past. Indeed, in the sense in which 
we formulate the picture of our past in order to account for the 
facts discovered, they did not have a past at all. Preliterate 
peoples have no history. Mythology is lightly held, is largely 
art, is thought of in a way quite different from that in which we 
regard historical accounts. As for the future, they concern 
themselves with it almost not at all. 

When ancient civilizations wrote their chronicles of whatever 
nature, a momentous change occurred; for literature means con- 
tacts bridging time, preserving exactly the words of the dead, 
and overcoming space. And so we meet early in the history of 
independent reflection the attempt to answer the question of the 
sort of path which had been traversed by the race of men. 

The first of these that shall concern us here is that of the Greeks 
who formulated the conception of human life as passing through 
a series of recurrent cycles conceived of in terms of millenniums. 
What was had been before and would be again. Life was thought 
of as a vast pattern with a repetend. The first age was the 
Golden Age, then came the Silver, then other baser and still 
baser elements till the final degeneration should come when the 
whole process should start over again. The complete cycle was 
fixed in terms of 72,000 years, at the end of which period it would 


all begin anew. This is, therefore, a sort of anti-progress, a 
philosophy of degeneration, the whole political, moral, and 
physical world gradually running down like a clock. Readers of 
Plato will recall his stages of political degeneration, timocracy, 
oligarchy, democracy, and despotism. To the Greeks progress 
was unthinkable and change, undesirable. 

Quite different was the conception of the course of history when 
the regal monotheism of Christianity, with its doctrine of provi- 
dence and what Santayana calls the " Christian epic," came into 
being. To them life was a sort of drama the scenes all written 
out and the final outcome known from the beginning. The time- 
span was shortened to a few centuries; the world had been 
created by a fiat and was to endure to the Day of Wrath, and 
after that the curtain would descend and the action be transferred 
to other stages. And in the meantime, there were no accidents 
in the providence of God, but there was no progress or evolution 
in the modern sense. 

When the doctrine of evolution began to win its way against 
the conception of medieval theology, the emotional values which 
had been furnished by confidence in the essentially beneficent 
power were abundantly supplied in the attitude of confidence 
in the moral character of the process itself. Henry Drummond 
and Tennyson gave utterance to the new-found faith that, 
although the evils of the world are many, they are overcome by 
manifold forces of good and in the distance there is, 

One far-off divine event, 

To which the whole creation moves. 

Science has no quarrel with this formulation, for it is not a 
scientific question. Evolution as a philosophy has all the values 
that any philosophy has and no more. As a detailed statement 
of the origin of anatomical structure, evolution is a scientific 
hypothesis, and this has been successfully applied to problems in 
botany, zoology, geology and astronomy. When applied to 
social and ethical problems, it has never been possible to find a 
method of demonstration, and the facile generalizations of Her- 
bert Spencer have one by one broken down under the increased 
strain of accumulated facts. Evolution as a philosophy is clearly 
a child of the wishes, but a child which can be born only to a 
society whose comfort and prosperity are obvious and undeniable. 


The stages through which society has everywhere passed, 
formulated again and again and correlated with economic organi- 
zation, familial schemes, moral concepts, religious views and 
practices, all these have been regretfully abandoned under 
the strain of accumulated facts which have revealed excep- 
tions, anomalies, and lacunae too serious for the theory to 

But progress is still a good word. Every man knows what it 
is in reference to his own life and his own purposes. Every 
society knows what it is to form plans, to work toward them, and 
to witness their satisfying realization. But progress as the 
specific achievement of a definite aim is one thing, while progress 
as a steady and progressive realization of the common good or 
happiness is quite another. And in the last thousand years 
conflict and struggle, warfare and victory, have been so continu- 
ously the experience of human society that it is not difficult to 
see that progress must always be stated in terms of the victor 
in the contest. It is, therefore, a subjective category. Opti- 
mism is the faith of the successful who believes he will continue 
to succeed and that the victories he has won over his enemies are 
but the assurances that future enemies will also be destroyed. It 
is not too much, therefore, to say that the older doctrine of prog- 
ress is losing its attraction for those who think in terms of the 
human race. There is another conception of progress which 
the scientific age is formulating which brings the process within 
the human will, the human reason, and the human muscles, 
namely, the doctrine of the conscious progress of plans which men 
may make, of dreams which the dreamers may dream, and which 
by careful and progressively clever methods may be realized. From 
this point of view progress is no longer the cosmic process realizing 
itself, as the Hegelians conceived it, but rather collective pur- 
poses, collectively planned, collectively striven for and, therefore, 
believed in. It is a retail and particular process and not a whole- 
sale and general one. It is the process by means of which we 
control our own destinies and analyze our own problems, making 
our own plans and bringing them to pass where we can, in spite 
of the niggardliness of a stepmotherly nature. 

As a doctrine of progress it began in the seventeenth century; 
as the doctrine of social evolution it is of the nineteenth century 
and is the analogue of the anatomical evolution of the biologists, 


applied here not to individual organisms, but to the growth of 

The orthodox theory of social evolution is a corollary of the 
theory of psychological evolution. As the body can be traced 
from the very simple forms to a climax in the relatively large 
brain of man, so mental capacity was assumed to consist of 
separate stages, the lower ones being those occupied by primitive 
man. Aided by the concept of vestiges, men like Herbert Spencer 
were able to construct a symmetrical picture with the lower 
races at one end of the scale, intermediate forms following after, 
the climax occurring in the geniuses who are the glory of our race. 

Primitive man, said the representatives of the older view, not 
only existed in the Old Stone Age, but he also exists today in 
Australia, in Patagonia, in Greenland, and similar regions of low 
culture. Culture being the product of the adaptation of the 
individual to his environment, it was thought high or low as this 
adaptation was made by a higher or lower order of mind. In 
the development, several stages were clearly distinguished, some 
formulations of which have become classic and are, indeed, the 
intellectual heritage of our literary tradition. A familiar series 
is the division of cultures into hunting, pastoral, agricultural, 
commercial, and manufacturing. As the facts began to accumu- 
late, subdivisions of these were made and transition stages 
admitted, but the general framework was not questioned. 

An even more familiar designation still current is that which 
gives the series as savagery, barbarism, and civilization. These, 
again, are divided by some writers into upper and lower savagery, 
upper and lower barbarism, and early and later civilization. 
Again, some found it necessary to further subdivide the material, 
making three divisions of each : lower, middle, and upper savagery, 
and so forth. 

The common assumption of schemes of this type is that cul- 
ture and social organization result from an interaction between 
the mind of man, which is assumed to be uniform and constant 
for a given situation, and the environment, which varies with the 
climate and physical situation but which is a definite fixed entity 
to be " adapted to." The attempt to assign the different peoples 
to their appropriate places in the scale was repeatedly made 
with a certain measure of success, the differentia being in each 
case the possession of a certain specific element of material cul- 


ture; for example, a bow and arrow or pottery combined with 
the economic organization or the degree of social integration. It 
was assumed that the human being who must drink will need a 
vessel to drink from and that when his mind has developed suffi- 
ciently he will know how to adapt himself to an environment 
which will make him bring into proper relation the three elements 
of clay, water, and fuel. Brought together in proper spatial 
and temporal relations, clay, water, and fuel will produce a pot. 
The lowest races had no pots because their minds were inferior. 
When, through the gradual evolving power of the intellect, they 
rose high enough in the mental scale, the pottery adaptation took 
place and they advanced to the higher stage of social evolution. 

Analogous assumptions were made concerning the bow and 
arrow. The bow and arrow is almost unique among human 
inventions. It has been called the most difficult and most 
important single material invention. It very greatly extended 
the zone of danger and efficiency of the hunter, gave him a greatly 
enlarged food supply, and contributed enormously to his feeling 
of self-confidence and power. But this is not the chief reason 
for the high place which the invention holds in the minds of the 
ethnologists. The remarkable aspect is that it is difficult to 
see through what stages the invention has passed. With a spear 
it is different. A poor spear is still a spear. A poor pot has 
some value as a pot. But a poor bow and arrow is practically 
worthless. Now, the origin of the bow and arrow is unknown, 
being prehistoric, but many tribes exist who are ignorant of it. 
The older theory assumed that elastic wood or similar material, 
straight shafts and twisted cord were put into their proper rela- 
tion when the mind of man had advanced far enough in self- 
direction and mechanical skill to make this possible. 

And so on through the series. Domestication of animals is 
higher than pure hunting and was assumed to have arisen when 
the scarcity of game and sufficient mental power occurred together. 
And so with agriculture. 

The technical name for this theory is Independent Origin. 
Through the American continent the bow and arrow was used. 
It is also present everywhere throughout Africa. It was not 
assumed that the Africans learned to make the bow from the 
Americans or vice versa; but rather that peoples in both cultures 
developed the instrument at their proper stage. 


Such a theory has all the attractiveness of symmetry and 
simplicity. It held the field for a long time and has by no means 
been wholly abandoned. Questions, however, began to arise 
when careful studies revealed certain spatial relationships that 
suggested difficulties. If a map of North America be drawn with 
reference solely to the manufacture of pottery, the areas where 
the art is known are practically continuous. A line drawn from 
the northern part of Arizona roughly in a northeasterly direction 
will separate the area of pottery south and east of this line from 
the area of no pottery on the north and west. It might be 
assumed that the people of the North and the West were inferior 
to the others, but the question was raised very early whether 
the art of pottery had not been introduced and taught to the 
remote tribes by some who had learned it or discovered it. The 
situation is quite similar regarding the bow and arrow. There 
is a large section of Oceania where this invention is unknown. 
That part of Oceania where bows and arrows are used is contigu- 
ous on the map with Malaysia and the continental areas which 
have possessed this instrument from prehistoric times. Here, 
again, the assumption is entirely tenable that the lower races 
are those who have not yet advanced to the stage of culture 
where the invention could occur, and it is entirely thinkable that 
this division of mankind into lower and higher might occur were 
the given peoples not entirely contiguous in the areas they occu- 
pied. In the case of the bow and arrow, however, complications 
affecting the theory of progress early appeared. 

The Andaman Islanders are admittedly among the most 
primitive of people, having no agriculture nor any pastoral 
life, living off native pigs, fish, and turtles, and with the very 
simplest form of social organization. They have, however, 
excellent bows and arrows with which they are very skillful. 
Certain Polynesians, on the other hand, whose social organiza- 
tion is complex and who have chiefs and kings, are ignorant of 
the bow and arrow. Moreover, the weapon is used in the north- 
ern tip of Australia and the Australians have long been considered 
among the most primitive of peoples. 

One more instance may be cited, the discovery of iron. There 
is still current a scheme of social evolution which gives as the 
stages stone, copper, bronze, and iron, and there is no question 
of the validity of this division of cultural elements in the case of 


the inhabitants of western Europe in prehistoric times. But 
when we consider that throughout the continent of Africa iron 
was mined, smelted, and forged and that in North America, 
where there are the richest deposits of iron in the world, no use 
whatever was made of it, it is impossible to avoid serious question- 
ing concerning the implications of the orthodox theory. The 
Iroquois Indians or the Pueblos, the Aztecs or the Cherokees, 
when carefully studied, appear to have no lack of mental abil- 
ity. Dr. Eastman, a native Sioux Indian, began to learn to 
read in his adolescent days and fourteen years later was awarded 
the degree of Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School. 
It is seriously to be doubted whether the absence of ironworking 
in America is to be ascribed to a low degree of mental power, 
and when we look at the map of iron culture it is again a con- 
tinuous area which appears. 

The accumulation of facts of this nature has led to the theory 
known as Diffusion, which would account for the spread of inven- 
tions in terms of contact with other peoples. That it is possible 
to trace the march of an invention in all its meanderings and in 
the absence of written records no one would assert. But given 
the appearance of an efficient weapon like the bow, and assuming 
contacts and migrations so that one group might learn from its 
neighbors, it would easily be possible to find the bow and arrow 
introduced to a people of low mentality but entirely absent from 
those of superior ability because they had not had the good for- 
tune to be reached by its influence. This whole subject is still 
a matter of controversy among specialists, but a sufficient num- 
ber of indubitable connections have been made out to impair 
seriously the older formulation of the evolution of material 

The older conception of the life of primitive peoples has been 
modified in two important respects. First, there has been appar- 
ently a continuous mobility, continued to our own times, which 
gives a picture very different from that presented to a scholar 
who wrote fifty years ago. We know of voyages of more than a 
thousand miles of the South Sea Islanders in their ocean-going 
canoes. Anthropologists now regard the American Indians as 
kindred of the Mongolians and assume that the Fuegians on the 
southern tip of South America are there because of a slow migra- 
tion from Alaska throughout the whole length of the two con- 


tinents. Similar itineraries have been made out of the two wings 
of the Bantu race, who started somewhere in northeast Africa, 
divided to the east coast and the west coast, and met again in 
the region of the Cape. Far more recent have been the migra- 
tions of the Maoris, the date of whose arrival in New Zealand 
has been provisionally fixed at the thirteenth century, A.D. We 
think of the modern era as characterized by free movements of 
peoples, and this is true, but it is merely a question of degree 
and rate of movement. The prehistoric world is now every- 
where pictured to us as characterized by migrating, advancing, 
intermingling peoples. So thorough has been this process that 
many anthropologists assert that there are no pure races left 
on the earth, not even the Africans. 

A second change in our conception is the realization that an 
element of culture can travel from one tribe to another without 
the presence of those originating it. The researches of Boas 
have shown that tales and myths are relayed from language to 
language and can be traced through thousands of miles, those 
finally telling them having no familiarity with the language in 
which the stories first originated. When Stanley came down the 
Congo River he found food plants that had been domesticated 
in South America growing thousands of miles inland, hundreds 
of miles beyond where white men had ever penetrated, having 
been relayed within the last two hundred years. Another 
instance of this process is to be found in the journey round the 
earth of the practice of smoking tobacco, which was brought to 
Europe in the seventeenth century, spreading soon to Asia, 
extending to the whole of Africa, finally reaching, by way of 
Siberia, the Indians in Alaska, who had been ignorant of it. 
The practice made its spiral circuit of the globe in one century, 
and this before the advent of steam power. 

All this has much to do with the theory of cultural evolution, 
making it easy to see how many or even most of the elements of 
the culture of a people may have been borrowed. It is now easy 
to see why the Pygmies are expert archers while some of the 
Polynesians are still spear throwers, or why Soudanese ex-slaves 
can read Arabic though Marquesans remained preliterate. 

There is another cardinal feature of the classic theory of social 
evolution that has been fatally criticized in recent years. It is 
the assumption that with a given economic organization or stage 


there would always be found a corresponding political, moral, 
and religious stage of ideas and institutions. Much has been 
made, for instance, of the position of women with reference to 
the degree of advancement in culture. The most primitive 
women were assumed to be lowest in status, and each advance 
in cultural development was assumed to be reflected in a higher 
stage with reference to this particular culture element. But 
when the facts began to accumulate, this simplicity did not 
appear. Some primitive tribes do, indeed, treat their women 
with scant consideration, beat them, imprison them, and make 
them into beasts of burden. But these are not always the lowest 
tribes. Indeed, they are never the lowest tribes. The simpler 
peoples are the kindlier. It is among the more advanced that 
harshness becomes striking. The writer has seen the wife of an 
African chief sitting on the ground wearing on her neck a punish- 
ment fork made from a heavy log whose continued weight could 
be nothing short of torture. But these people were agricultural 
with half a dozen breeds of domesticated animals and a high 
degree of skill in metal working, weaving, and wood carving, while 
among the Iroquois Indians, who were in the Polished Stone Age, 
the matrons of the tribe had great freedom, much dignity, and a 
high degree of political and administrative responsibility and 
power. It is unnecessary to multiply instances of this sort, for 
the statement is unquestioned that the economic, the social, 
and the religious development do not run pari passu. 

What shall we say then? Has there been no evolution or 
development of social life and organization? Is it not possible 
to see any progress in the march of the human race? It does 
not follow because the older explanation of evolution is unsatis- 
factory that no continuity or improvement can be made out. 
The psychology of invention is not easy to write. In fact, it is 
perhaps forever impossible to formulate it, for invention is some- 
thing new and to hit upon something new and original always 
has the quality of the accidental, by which we mean the not 
understood. No one knows who invented the art of working 
iron. It is certain that it was not a white man and it is not impos- 
sible that two or more men could have done it independently 
and in far-separated regions. Whoever it was, he passed it on 
to others until now it has become the foundation of our modern 
civilization. The invention of iron, however, does not seem to 


be any measure either of mental capacity or of high culture. The 
Eskimo, who had neither metals nor stone, who understood 
neither weaving nor pottery, stands conspicuous among primitive 
peoples as an industrious, efficient, and highly moral person. 
For many millenniums the guesses at their number are very 
wild, for the only measure is the very small-scale map of geology 
primitive man over all the earth lived on a level of culture which, 
with all its variations, can hardly be separated with any degree 
of scientific confidence into higher and lower. 

We return, then, to the assumption which underlay the formu- 
lation of our fathers in the age of faith, namely, that the human 
race is approximately uniform in mental endowment and that 
progress and change are not to be correlated with or explained 
by any assumptions of increasing mental capacity. This was 
the assumption made by those who formulated the course of 
history in terms of divine providence. As we have already seen, 
throughout medieval thought and surviving still in evangelical 
circles it was assumed that the whole course of human life, 
creation, fall, redemption, the last day, and the millennium, were 
all conceived in the mind of God, who had made of one blood all 
the nations of the earth. The modern doctrine of progress is 
but a translation of these terms into the scientific language of 
the nineteenth century. The span of the years was enormously 
lengthened, and the details of the scheme were loosened notice- 
ably, but the steady growth and irresistible improvement of 
social and moral ideas were steadfastly believed in and still have 
many able and earnest advocates. They no longer speak of a 
millennium to be inaugurated by the visible, literal, bodily Par- 
oursia. It is, nevertheless, confidently believed by many that 
a goal of change exists. 

The emotional value of such a conception is unquestionable. 
Moreover, it accorded so well with the doctrine of biological 
evolution that scientific warrant for this emotional faith was 
easy to procure. The doctrine of the survival of the fittest, when 
applied to social phenomena, is very full of comfort for it is always 
preached by those who have survived, and who thus assert their 
fitness by a scientific indirection. Ethnocentrism, the tendency 
to make one's own culture the measure of all others, seems to be 
everywhere present, but to those who are enabled to contemplate 
all peoples from the standpoint of the whole the relativity of 


these measures soon appears. For progress is relative to the 
ideals and wishes of a nation or a race, and in a world as bloody 
as ours progress has meant death and destruction of many from 
whose point of view there has been, of course, no progress. To 
a Bulgarian Christian the history of the Balkans in the last two 
centuries shows more progress than appears to his Turkish 
neighbor. The Cherokee chiefs fighting a rear-guard action 
against encroachment and injustice can believe in progress only 
by taking the point of view of their enemies. The dog who is 
running for his dinner and who is gaining on the rabbit running 
for his life is indeed making progress, but the rabbit, soon to be 
a victim, could he think might not so define it. 

Considerations such as these have done much to discredit the 
earlier generalizations. Particular progress in specific activities 
is obvious, but whether in general and on the whole this could 
be asserted must depend on the point of view. Those of European 
culture, including Americans, whose ships dominate the seven 
seas and whose flags float even over the barren wastes of the 
poles are hardly justified in identifying their own achieved ambi- 
tions with the fate of the race as a whole. Moreover, warning 
voices in no small number have been raised, calling attention to 
the new types of degradation in our slums, new forms of slavery 
in factory and brothel, new types of discontent, and what is 
more serious if true, the physical degeneration of the race in a 
land where the most miserable fraction produces more than 
half of the children. It is necessary to reexamine older formula- 
tions if we are to escape the fallacy of our own prejudices. 

Leaving out of account the new terms of value, what descrip- 
tive changes can be described? One of the most significant is 
held to be the invention of alphabetical writing. Diverse as they 
are, preliterate peoples are much more nearly alike and have far 
more in common with each other than with those who, possessing 
written literature, we call civilized. Now, literacy is an institu- 
tion arising out of certain inventions, originating in very circum- 
scribed spots, and spreading over the earth. The missionaries 
of our own generation have abundantly proved that all peoples 
can learn letters. An unclothed Bantu can be seen sitting in 
the shade of the forest reading a book which six months before 
had seemed to him like unintelligible magic. Literacy is not the 
result of capacity, but a tradition handed on from one race to 


another and from fathers to sons, which can be traced back to 
the dawn of history. Whatever social changes literacy repre- 
sents, it has this much of the fortuitous. That literacy does 
make profound and fundamental changes is increasingly evident, 
for the written word remains. In the records of the past the 
fathers speak, and the writings, or scriptures, are venerated 
among all peoples. Such facts mean that a continuity of tradi- 
tion, an enlargement of consciousness, is possible to such a degree 
that it amounts to a difference in kind. A race without letters 
has no history, merely tales and traditions. A people without 
history is like a man without memory, who lives from moment 
to moment. It is possible, therefore, to make one grand division 
in the evolution of man at the period where writing begins. For 
the preliterates, different as they are from each other, may all be 
characterized by certain common traits. They live in small 
groups; they are relatively isolated; they are uncritical of their 
own culture; and their lives are lived in a social atmosphere where 
magic and superstition have reached the saturating point. 

When writing appears, several things happen. The past lives 
on in the inscribed leaf. Isolation both in time and space begins 
to give way. Contacts multiply and cities begin, and with the 
growth of cities and the complexity which necessarily results a 
new dimension is added to human life. W. J. Perry and Eliott 
Smith have brought forward many facts in support of the notion 
that city life with its cooperation and consequent accumulation 
of savings, or capital, furnishes the culture medium in which 
were evolved both slavery and war. This theory is too recent 
for a final judgment to be passed upon it, but the complexity of 
large aggregations with their division into classes, and the strati- 
fication which finds its ultimate expression in Europe in feudal- 
ism, and in Asia in the caste system, seems quite undeniable. 
Now, one aspect of social evolution which we can attribute to 
writing is the systematizing and fixing of the moral, spiritual, 
and social ideas and customs. Preliterate societies are erro- 
neously assumed to be fixed and immovable. Properly under- 
stood, the opposite statement is more nearly true. All tribea 
have food taboos, religious and ceremonial practices, but none 
are so fixed or have endured so long as those of peoples who have 
written them down, for writing fixes the old and the old always 
tends to become sacred. Everyone who is familiar with prelit- 


erate culture recognizes the helplessness of its traditions in com- 
petition with an organized and systematized competing system, 
whether the missionary be Christian, Mohammedan, or Buddhist. 
The preliterate villager has no effective defense against a 
missionary's confident assertion of a fixed and hoary tradition. 

It is not meant to assert that writing necessarily represents a 
higher stage of culture. Indeed, the point has been repeatedly 
made that writing intrpduced too early may be a great bar to 
progress. The elaborate and meticulous ritual of the toilet would 
probably have been abandoned long ago in India, had it not been 
written down in the sacred books. The irrational dietary laws 
of the Hebrews which forbade ham, but permitted grasshoppers, 
survives to our own day only because of the literacy of their 

If one term must be chosen to characterize the effect of writing, 
it would be the tendency to absolutism. Preliterate peoples 
live in a world of magic and environing spiritual beings, but these 
are evanescent and shifting in their existence. The introduction 
of writing mitigates in no sense the tyranny of superstition, but 
it does erect it into a system giving stability and permanence 
and the prestige of former generations. In the enthusiasm for 
classic culture, it was for a long time customary to deny super- 
stition and magic to the Greece of Pericles, but careful researches 
forced the admission that this praise is undeserved. The life 
of medieval Europe is so well known that it is impossible to mini- 
mize the place of magic and superstition in their culture. Indeed, 
it is easier to list the likenesses between the civilization of Egypt, 
Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe than it is the differences. 
Differences there are in plenty, but through all the variety there 
appear the common characteristics, expanding political units, 
stratified society, sacred books wherein the superstitions of their 
fathers are glorified, and a uniform and pathetic dependence 
upon unknown supernatural beings and influences: gods, devils, 
gnomes, fairies under the control of witches, necromancers, 
shamans, and priests. If the word were not already pre-empted 
by historians for another meaning, it would be convenient to 
designate all that period of human history from the earliest 
civilization in Egypt to the seventeenth Christian century as the 
Medieval Period, for middle period it certainly is, intermediate 
between the unorganized and half-conscious life of the prelit- 


erates, and the modern age, the keynote of which is 

John Dewey somewhere remarks that the idea which appeared 
in western Europe in the period following the Renaissance was the 
most important invention of the human mind save perhaps the 
"invention" of language itself. This idea he says was the con- 
ception that the forces of nature can be used and controlled to satisfy 
and increase the wants of man. Our third period of social evolu- 
tion is, then, the age of science, age of control, or the modern period. 
It is unnecessary to admit that anticipations of this may be found 
as far back as paleolithic man, and that the art products of Egypt 
and of Europe would have been impossible without a measure 
of this spirit. But despite these facts, it remains true that the 
whole center of gravity of our lives has shifted in the last three 
or four centuries from dependence and submission to conscious 
invention and control. Wissler characterizes European culture 
by three terms: universal suffrage, education, and invention, and 
these are all different manifestations of the modern spirit which 
is homocentric, self-reliant, and when true to itself devoid of 
superstition. The history of this transition has been but recently 
written, nay, it is still in the writing. One of the most important 
documents of this history is White's History of the Warfare 
Between Science and Theology in Christendom, a history which he 
could not completely write, since he is dead and the warfare not 
yet finished. The different chapters in this book are accounts 
of the several battles in that war and may all be brought under 
our formula. Astronomy began as an effort to reduce to a 
mechanical statement the movements of those terrible points of 
light whose influence on our fathers is still reflected in the names 
of our weekdays. The comets were transformed from portents 
of wrath to harmless streams of luminous gas, and insane people 
who formerly were the helpless hosts of disembodied demons, 
have by the touch of science been transformed into hospital 

It is difficult to exaggerate the magnitude of this change. The 
control of astronomy, the control of navigation, the control of 
agriculture these are all such commonplace assumptions of our 
culture that we need at times to be reminded of the prescientific 
methods which secured the safety of ships by prayers and offer- 
ings, and the fertility of the soil by magical and erotic ceremonies. 


The dawning conception that human nature itself is the result of 
social interaction and that psychology and sociology can become 
natural sciences opens up the hope that by taking thought human 
nature itself can be controlled. War, poverty, and crime, which 
were formerly defended, apologized for, and even conceived as a 
part of the divine plan, appear to our modern eyes as problems 
to be solved, as challenges to the technique of control which 
scientific men persistently seek. 

That this is another and higher stage of social evolution can 
admit of no doubt. The modern scientific world is a different 
world from the medieval universe, where all the evils were a 
part of some higher plan of extra-human powers. The medieval 
has this in common with the preliterate world, that the emphasis 
of importance is always on some other life superhuman or 
infrahuman, but never human. The preliterate world is 
social, mythological, magical; the medieval mind added the- 
ology and metaphysics; the modern conception is positive and 

The conception of social evolution is, then, that of a dependence 
upon new inventions and discoveries, but these are not necessarily 
or chiefly material. Human brotherhood is as much an invention 
as is a steam engine; and democracy, as real a discovery as elec- 
tricity. The history of these concepts bears a direct relation to 
the growth of social organization, and Shailer Mathews, who 
speaks of theology as transcendentalized politics, has shown in 
the clearest way the relation of our concepts of the universe to 
our social life. The preliterate world is still in many parts a 
godless world, for gods cannot exist where there are no kings. 
When civilization appeared, the pantheon of each culture reflected 
the political structure of its people. In this our modern age the 
revolution has been so recent and so fundamental that concepts 
and imagery for the religious symbols of a democratic people 
have not appeared in any satisfying form. The transmitted 
scriptures of our fathers give us a fossil vocabulary of a medieval 
world, a vocabulary which fits but poorly the needs of our day. 
The new wine of democratic ideals is endangered in the old skins 
of medieval vocabularies. 

And yet nothing would be more erroneous than the assertion 
that social evolution has outstripped religion or that science is 
taking the place of religion. The dreams of our dreamers are as 


splendid as any Syrian prophet's inspiration. The faith of a 
modern advocate of peace on earth or a modern prophet of social 
reform is of the same quality as that which has made the record 
of the Hebrew prophets perennial fountains of courage and hope, 
There is this difference, however: the preliterate faith was a 
dumbly despairing trust in capricious and precarious spirits; the 
medieval faith was a humble and contrite surrender to an arbi- 
trary and powerful external deity; the modern faith is a trust, 
equally sublime and of the same quality, but having for its 
instrument a scientific technique to be expected and sought for. 
The love of a man for the life of his child is of the same quality 
in all three cases. But in sickness the Melanesian for relief 
leaned on pure magic; the early Christian, on fervent prayer; 
the modern man, on preventive medicine and its attendant 

And so we conclude that there has been evolution and progress 
after all, but the formula is the more or less rapid spread from single 
centers of diffusion of particular inventions and discoveries in the 
material and spiritual worlds. Some of these inventions have 
been evil, and some of the change has been regressive. The great 
discoveries have always presented new problems, some of which 
have not yet found solutions. The doctrine of progress here pre- 
sented would view our present evils and future perils in the nature 
of a challenge to our inventive genius and associated creative 
intelligence. With the conviction that this is not a stage play 
which is already rehearsed with the final consummation already 
certain, but a real fight with the issue in doubt, and a real strug- 
gle into which the high-hearted can throw themselves with all 
the devotion of the ancient heroes, we work earnestly to find a 
technique which will enable us to achieve the object of our faith, 
the bringing in of a better world. 

We come finally to the problem of the evolution of culture 
narrowly defined, which is the distinct subject matter of sociology. 
The key to the understanding of this question lies in a study of 
custom and the stages through which it passes. Now, the cus- 
toms of a group are its habits, analogous to the habits of a man, 
and arising out of the normal tendency to repeat an act in the 
same way, time after time. Custom has all the advantages of 
individual habits. Attention is economized and efficiency 
results, for energy is more effective if a channel already exists. 


Custom likewise has the disadvantage of habits, for habits are 
hard to break and not all habits are good. 

The stages of custom are now generally agreed upon. They 
begin as folkways, the unwitting uniformities of behavior which 
arise in every society. The folkways are in the beginning never 
formulated and are only partially attended to ; for not only is it 
the tendency of habit to become unconscious through long repeti- 
tion, but also the beginning of habit may be entirely unnoticed. 

The second stage of development of the folkways is known 
among sociologists as the mores, which, while still unformulated, 
are more conscious and always in some degree emotional, for the 
violation or threatened violation causes concern or resentment. 
The folkways, which are mere usages, exist in all societies along- 
side the mores, which are all but universal but not quite so. It 
is possible to find isolated societies on small islands, like the 
Andamans, where hardly any of the folkways have risen to the 
conscious and emotional level of mores. This means that resent- 
ment at the violation of the folkways has not occurred because 
the violation has not sufficiently often taken place. There is 
no penalty for murder among the Andamans, that is, no set pen- 
alty. If the murderer be a man of influence he may withdraw 
himself for a time from the camp, followed by some of his friends, 
and stay until the matter has blown over, after which the whole 
thing is forgotten. The mores seem to require a certain degree 
of interpenetration of groups to bring the folkways to the con- 
scious level of morals. 

The third stage of development is double, for it takes two direc- 
tions, one individual and one social. On the individual side 
group morality passes into individual morality; custom becomes 
conscience. And here, again, our formula seems adequate. 
Conscience among completely isolated peoples is so rare as to be 
negligible, for conscience is an appeal which the individual makes 
from the group to his own ideas, setting himself in opposition to 
others or feeling guilty because of his refusal to obey the voice of 
his people. The literature of isolated preliterates seems to war- 
rant the assertion that a homogeneous group hardly ever has the 
problem of dealing with one who criticizes the customs of his 
people or refuses to fall in with their wishes. Modern civilized 
life, with its company of martyrs, heroes, rebels, and independent 
thinkers, has obscured the obvious principle that individuality 


presupposes a sort of dual membership or, at least, a dual influ- 
ence. Conscience is not merely the voice of the group in the soul 
of a man; it consists in the warring voices of two groups or of 
multiple social influences, contending in a single breast for alle- 
giance and supremacy. In modern life this is not difficult to see, 
particularly if we take into account the influence of literature, 
for the reading of books is, as already remarked, a kind of con- 
versation with the past or, at least, with the absent. 

The social aspect of the third stage of development is the pas- 
sage from the unformulated mores to the organized institutions. 
Now, an institution as Sumner points out involves a concept and 
a structure; the concept being the abstract symbol, the product 
of reflective thinking, and the structure being an organization 
into a formulated and systematized arrangement of personnel 
and materiel. This process may be illustrated in religion, which 
begins in the unconsciously formed folkways, arising out of the 
quest for food, the defense against enemies, and the crises in life 
and in nature, such as birth, death, winter, and storms. The 
folkways thus gradually crystallized are called mores when they 
come into consciousness and are rationalized. Likewise, the 
phenomenon of conscientiousness in religion is most easily 
observed when two religions simultaneously solicit the allegiance 
of one man or when a strange custom or a lawless impulse invites 
him to disregard or criticize the religious practices of his fathers. 
And finally, while among preliterates there are no religious 
institutions, yet among moderns there are no religions without 
institutions, our conception of religion being bound up with our 
ideas concerning the church, the mosque, the synagogue, or the 

There is one important modification of the statement that 
these phases are stages of evolution. It is not the whole truth 
to say that isolated peoples are governed by folkways, conflicting 
preliterate groups by mores, and modern peoples by institutions. 
The folkways are as much a part of modern life as of the most 
backward people, and the mores exist even where institutions 
are most numerous. The mores do not replace folkways but are 
superadded to them, and institutions do not replace the mores 
but exist alongside both the earlier forms of control. 

Consider a book of etiquette describing the social usages of 
the most refined society. Such a book might be defined as a set 


of written directions enabling members of a lower stratum to 
behave consciously as the members of a higher group behave 
unthinkingly. The manners of the superior social group are 
folkways and are absorbed without effort by the children, being 
enforced by no severer penalties than lifted eyebrows of pained 
surprise or gently smiling approval. For every society develops 
its unintentional customs, which, if they continue long enough, 
may pass over into the stage when they are expected so confi- 
dently that they are enforced by severe penalties, although the 
penalties may not become exact and formal. And when the 
customs reach another development they may pass into legal 
enactments, thus reaching the institutional stage. The prohi- 
bition law may be thought of as the efforts of part of the nation 
to impose their mores upon the whole. In many cities it is now 
illegal to alter the direction of a motor car without extending 
the hand horizontally. The custom having proved desirable, it 
became a law and passed quickly into an institutional phase. 

These three stages may indeed be thought of as being preceded 
by another, a sort of instinctive morality whereby, as in a figure, 
nature punishes violations, even though society is organized in 
favor of them. The polyandry of the Todas, the infanticide of 
the Solomon Islanders, and the birth control of the Bobangi are 
rapidly causing their extinction. But neglecting this phase, the 
four stages of evolution may be set down as folkways, mores, 
conscience, institutions, followed by the disorganization and 
breaking up of these later and the reorganization into new 

But all this is obviously concerned with the form only and not 
at all with the content, and it is the content of morality which 
is important. If we inquire whether there is a development or 
evolution of mores on the side of content, the matter becomes 
very difficult. No practice which we deprecate or abhor has 
been without moral approval among some people, somewhere, 
at some time. The Greeks thought it highly moral to kill sickly 
children; the Fuegians kill their aged parents as a sacred duty; 
and the Australian offers his wife to his guest, lest he be considered 
inhospitable. To this day head-hunters in many communities 
feel ashamed until they have raided a sleeping village and decapi- 
tated a helpless victim. The content of the mores depends upon 
the fortuitous constellation of forces, economic, political, and 


social. A sudden change in circumstances will make a good 
practice immoral. The exploitation of the children in our 
factories is but one of many examples. Alexander Hamilton is 
quoted as praising the new machine age because it brought the 
opportunity for gainful employment to all the people, especially 
those of tender years. 

Moreover, folkways and mores are as much the object of import 
and export as are material goods. Witness our Australian ballot, 
our German Christmas tree, our Chinese game of mah-jongg. 
The development of the content of customs is never a simple 
evolution but includes the sudden acquisition by one folk of what 
has been slowly built up by another. If the tribes of earth had 
each remained quite separated from all the rest it might be pos- 
sible to have described their cultural evolution with more confi- 
dence, but the mobility of races and cultures is the outstanding 
phenomenon. Whenever for any cause the mobility is decreased, 
customs tend to harden and become stable. This not only char- 
acterizes China and India but to some extent Medieval Europe, 
and perhaps the most salient feature of the cultural life of our 
time is the rapidly increasing tempo of alteration. 

The development of the folkways may be into mores and thence 
into institutions, but the change does not necessarily take this 
direction, for the manners of people may change or disappear or 
undergo substitution while still remaining on the level of mere 
usages. Likewise, the mores undergo constant modification, 
decay, intensification, or substitution, without necessarily ever 
becoming institutionalized. And as for institutions, they are 
always being altered, and some of the changes are very slow. 
Moreover, some institutions pass back into the life of a people 
as mere customs, remaining sometimes as vestiges, surviving in 
a few instances in the games of our children before disappearing 
entirely from human life. 

And when there are sudden and dramatic changes in institu- 
tions, these are never the result of immediate causes alone but 
may be thought of as a sudden eruption due to long-continued 
and increasing pressure, as a tree long decaying may be over- 
turned by a sudden gust of wind. They can be comprehended 
only if we consider that the slow process of undermining has been 
going on for years. Revolutions have occurred in all ages of 
history, from Egypt to Russia, and the formula seems everywhere 


to apply. The revolution may mean moral advance or it may 
not. The judgment in each case depends upon the judge. But 
the revolution is the breaking up of an old organization, and the 
tendency of human society is to reorganize itself as best it may 
and as soon as it can. 

Every institution, like every organization, involves the expres- 
sion of some attitudes and the suppression of others. The equilib- 
rium obtained is never permanent, for the temperamental 
equipment of the rising generation is never identical with the 
adults who are in command, and the temperament of new leaders 
introduces at times a disturbing factor. Moreover, widespread 
communication gives increasing opportunity for new and dis- 
turbing changes, and these always make for disorganization. 

Modern life is perhaps most truly characterized as involving 
an increasing rate of change whose tempo is speeding up in a 
geometrical ratio. More changes have taken place in the last 
generation than in the previous century, and greater changes, 
perhaps, in the last hundred years than in the preceding thousand. 
Whether this be good or evil depends upon the outcome, and 
concerning the outcome no one may dogmatize, for possibilities 
of growth involve possibilities of decay, and men who may con- 
tinue to advance beyond middle life are also subject to the perils 
of disorganization in a far greater degree than their ancestors. 

Twenty-five years ago it would have been easy to secure general 
agreement to the proposition that the increased communication 
of our day has led us to an era of democracy, and it is clearly true 
that our units are larger and the area of our sympathies includes 
more people than ever before. "Men have always believed that 
it was right to love your neighbor as yourself the difficulty has 
been to agree on who your neighbor is." There is dawning an 
age of humanity. Our circle of brotherhood sometimes includes 
the planet, and there is some warrant for saying that there has 
been a continuous expansion of the family sympathy. Nations 
were once everywhere considered to be above all moral law, but 
now we plan a Parliament of Man. It may be that institutions 
will culminate in a Master Institution, with justice and liberty, 
equality and democracy, as cosmic ideals. 

And yet it would be very easy to fall into an error, even here. 
In 1917 the hearts of men were lifted up because they saw visions 
of universal democracy following the last of all the wars. Today 


we are a sadder race. The tragic discords of Versailles and the 
bitter hatreds that have arisen out of our intense reactionary 
nationalism have already produced a flood of articles, pamphlets, 
and books glorifying isolation, defending the exploitation of the 
weak, and repudiating democracy. The future even of democracy 
cannot be foretold out of hand. If and when we work out an 
adequate social science, we shall be able to predict, and to con- 
trol because we shall know the processes and the mechanisms. 
Until then the issue is veiled. The outcome depends on the 
visions of our seers and the skill of our leaders, as well as upon 
the inscrutable movements of the cosmic processes whose out- 
come, being inaccessible to our knowledge, remains the goal of 
our faith. 



If the reader will permit a paradox, race prejudice is a phe- 
nomenon that is not essentially connected with race. This 
paradox has its justification when the results of any attempt to 
secure a classification of mankind into races has been seriously 
made. The only sense in which race prejudice deals with race 
is in the naive and untechnical fashion in which the United States 
government lists races for the purposes of the immigration law. 
In the list of races given one may read of the Irish race, the 
Welsh race, the Bohemian race, the African race, the Spanish- 
American race, the Canadian race, the Italian race, to a total of 
some thirty-nine. 

Another way to say the same thing would be to assert that as 
races are dealt with and as races are disliked, there is little or no 
connection with the scientific concept of race. Not that this is 
without justification, for, in this crude world in which we live, 
it is of importance to determine not what races are, but what men 
call races when they manifest racial antipathy. And it is an 
extremely easy task to show in this connection that race prejudice 
is contingent upon a certain type of group consciousness which 
may have no defense in a scientific classification, but which does 
determine in large measure what men live by and what they do 
when they live. 

Now, concerning group consciousness we do know something, 
and one thing we know is that group consciousness has a begin- 
ning in each particular case. It has been repeatedly shown by 
competent and careful men that group consciousness, like self- 
consciousness, arises in a condition of inhibition or contrast which 
may be acute enough to be called conflict but is always capable 
of being studied genetically. 

If the foregoing statements are convincing, we have as a start- 
ing point of our discussion a complete repudiation of the mytho- 
logical school of sociologists, who derive race prejudice from 



organic attitudes. The chief reliance of such writers seems to 
be the olfactory apparatus, with some attention to the gustatory 
function. There is also the unproved inaccurate assertion that 
the strange or unfamiliar is a native stimulus to fear. Such 
writers in moments of absent-mindedness present the reader with 
equally untenable statements about curiosity which would con- 
tradict what they have written about fear, but let us not digress. 
So far as the present writer's facts show, there is no race prejudice 
prior to group consciousness, and new and unfamiliar people are 
more apt to be interesting and intriguing than to excite either 
fear or disgust. In short, without going into detail here, the 
assumption is made that the consciousness of one's own group 
and the consciousness of another group, which require specific 
and definable conditions for their creation, are held to be neces- 
sary for the existence of race prejudice. The group to which I 
belong is the in-group, but I can belong to an in-group only if 
there is also present the conception of one or more out-groups. 
The reaction in race prejudice is never to an individual but 
always to some person or persons as representing, belonging to, 
included in, an out-group over against which my own in-group 
is contrasted. 

But group consciousness does not always mean group preju- 
dice. An athletic contest between two rival colleges may be 
conducted in an atmosphere of more or less chivalrous strife, 
with the rules of the game carefully defined and scrupulously 
kept, the defeated team accepting gamely the result, and while 
group consciousness in such cases is sometimes intense, the 
mark of antipathy and the peculiar feeling tone which we associ- 
ate with prejudice may be entirely absent. But group prejudice 
does arise, and often, and it seems to possess all the criteria of 
race prejudice even when race is not the object. There is class 
prejudice seen in the attitude of the proletariat toward the capi- 
talist bourgeoisie. There is sectional prejudice which has been 
bitter enough to cause bloody wars. There is political prejudice, 
not to be lightly spoken of and involving on occasion intense 
antipathy. The writer as a child listened one day to a Southern 
Democrat discussing a certain Republican. With great feeling 
he insisted that he would not dream of allowing a Republican to 
enter his house and didn't see how any self-respecting Southerner 
could feel any different. It would be impossible in this case to 


appeal to race, but the group prejudice involved all the charac- 
teristics of very intense race prejudice. 

Race prejudice, when it exists, has apparently no distinguishing 
qualities, but it does perhaps admit of somewhat different defenses 
or rationalizations. The writer has attempted to show else- 
where that men are held to be human when they act in a compre- 
hensible manner. If the group against which we feel strongly 
is strange in its customs or habitually given to disapproved 
actions, it is difficult to regard them as wholly like us. If, there- 
fore, the term race can be brought in, it gives a sort of pseudo- 
biological defense to the emotional attitude. In one instance of 
group antipathy toward a recently arrived group of Bohemian 
farmers in Texas it was asserted that the people were really not 
human beings; they worked their women in the fields, they went 
without shoes, and it was commonly believed that they lived in 
their houses like animals, devoid of the normal human comforts. 
If you feel that way about a people, you are much more comfort- 
able if you call upon biology to classify them as belonging to a 
different race from your own. This call has often gone forth 
but has never been answered. Biological science has no word 
to say. Biologists classify men as one species. Anthropology 
alone has given marks of race and they class Berbers and certain 
children of Mother India as of the Caucasian race to which the 
popular response is a law keeping them out, as of another and 
lower race. 

If the theory of organic attitudes as a basis of race prejudice were 
true, then we could not account for the fact that the first Chinese 
were welcomed and approved. The earliest Japanese were 
interesting and charming. The Mexicans in the artists' colony 
are the subject of exceptionally favorable attention. 

A phenomenon in point on the campus at Chicago is the popu- 
larity of the Hindu students with the romantic-minded girls. 
They are new, unfamiliar, and strange, therefore they are rather 
attractive than otherwise. Prejudice against them is improbable 
because they are too few in number for group consciousness to 
arise. Nor are we left to guess what happens when they are more 
numerous. We know something of the history of the subject 
in California, in Texas, in South Africa. 

We may conclude, then, in the first place that race prejudice 
is a social phenomenon with nothing in the organic or innate 


constitution of man that offers any explanation. It is rather 
due to a complex situation in which two or more contrasting or 
conflicting groups come into contact in such a way that one is 
set over against the other, with certain emotional aspects to the 
conflict such as hostility, antipathy, and the like, to the considera- 
tion of which we may now turn. 

One of the most difficult theoretical aspects of this problem 
of race prejudice lies in the difficulty of accurately defining its 
limits. Robert E. Park has taught us to distinguish between 
prejudice and the condition where accommodation exists. This 
insight seems profoundly valuable and gives warrant for saying 
that a caste system may exist without the phenomenon of group 
prejudice. The essential difference here seems to be the stability 
of the organization and the absence of tension. Each group is 
ranked, allocated, and relatively stable and content with its 
position. Analogous conditions can exist in class distinctions 
where no race questions are involved. The lower class in Eng- 
land thirty years ago looked upon the aristocracy without envy 
or antipathy. The latter had always been rich and powerful, 
and the poor had always been restricted in their lives. It seemed 
part of the order of nature. The prayer books seemed to assert 
that it was, indeed, the will of God. There were many distinc- 
tions, but they were accepted. Class prejudice was absent. 
Even in England it is not so now, and in Russia the conditions 
are strikingly different. If the situations where race prejudice 
is clearly recognized be brought together for comparison, there 
appears to be a common element in them all. There is every- 
where some degree of tension, some struggle real or impending, 
some uncertainty of the outcome, some competition or conflict, 
either for economic opportunity or for social status, or for some 
other desired goods, and along with this tension there can be 
made out differing degrees of hostility and antipathy, the extreme 
limit of which is extreme hatred. 

The problem, then, is to define accurately the situations which 
produce this emotional stress and to point out clearly the different 
types of emotional stress which are produced. For it is clear that 
race prejudice exists in an infinite number of graded intensities, 
shading all the way from slight tendencies for withdrawal to the 
violent extremes illustrated by the activities of the Scotch shep- 
herds in Auracania who organized shooting parties and by paying 


bounties for tongues of dead Indians soon exterminated all the 

Race prejudice, therefore, is a particular class of social atti- 
tude, a particular subclass of a group attitude, involving a feeling 
of negative affective tone varying through a wide series. Preju- 
dice seems, therefore, to be always emotional. It is a sentiment. 
The object of the sentiment is never a perceptual experience, but 
always a concept, a subjective image, of a class of persons toward 
whom the attitude is directed. 

Being emotional, race prejudice is not rational. It is, perhaps, 
this fact which has misled the authorities above referred to into 
the error of assuming that it was organic or native. Sentiments 
arise in the emotional conflicts, but emotional conflicts are always 
the result of an attempt to reorganize life and to overcome new 
difficulties. Any collectivity has in it the potentialities of new 
and unheard of bifurcations and divisions. Everyone under- 
stands what is meant by violent sex prejudice, men prejudiced 
against wom$n and vice versa. We have witnessed recently 
the rise of youth movements and interesting talk about what 
youth is doing or thinking and about their success or failure in 
inventing original sins that they might commit. It is hardly an 
exaggeration to say that in some of these "youth movements" 
we have men prejudiced against their own children and, pari 
passu, a group prejudiced against their own parents. The 
inevitably transitory nature of this phenomenon requires no 

Race prejudice, being a collective phenomenon, is always 
localized in space, for groups are situated on the land. Race 
prejudice is thus attached to the soil. It should be studied with 
the assistance of the map. It would be highly profitable to have 
a world map of race prejudice which would show the different 
groups in different areas where the phenomenon is present and 
would reveal the interesting facts as to the unilateral or bilateral 
character of the attitude. Sometimes the prejudice is mutual, at 
other times it is one-sided. Moreover, such a map could be 
drawn so as to show the varying degrees of prejudice in so far as 
these are capable of objective statement and record. But such 
a map, even if completely and accurately made out, would not 
exhaust the possibilities of cartography in research on prejudice. 
It would be profitable to have historical maps showing areas 


where prejudice formerly existed and has now disappeared. It 
is easy to show that many such areas can be delimited. The 
historical map would also reveal previous periods when existing 
prejudice was not present. In short, the ecological study of 
race prejudice seems to offer a fruitful field for investigation and 
one which appears to have been overlooked hitherto. In July, 
1928, a delegation of Presbyterian ministers appeared formally 
before the Home Secretary of Britain, requesting a quota arrange- 
ment against the invasion of the Irish into Scotland. They 
represented that the Irish are far too numerous in Glasgow and 
are increasing at an alarming rate. Constituting 25 per cent of 
the population of the city, the Irish receive 70 per cent of the 
poor relief. In the past twenty years the Irish increased 39 per 
cent and the Scottish only 6 per cent. Here are all the essential 
elements of race prejudice. Moreover, the Scoti from Ireland 
invaded Scotland, so that they are identical in race. No sociolo- 
gist could say of the invading race in this case that the trouble 
with the Irish is that they have the wrong color. 

It has elsewhere been pointed out that prejudice is a bivalent 
attitude. The rejection of one race is coeval with the acceptance 
and allegiance to another. When prejudice against a group is 
found, it seems always possible to discover the correlative preju- 
dice for another group. Moreover, both the favorable and the 
unfavorable attitudes vary in a continuous series with a middle 
or zero point of neutrality or indifference. Sometimes in defend- 
ing the prejudice against a group the main emphasis is placed on 
devotion to the conflicting group. The literature produced in 
India in defense of what we may now call caste prejudice is 
devoted chiefly to idealistic phrases claiming a divine origin for 
the upper caste and defending the system as a benevolent institu- 
tion which enables the privileged group best to serve the people 
as a whole. The current writings of the Ku Klux Klan abound 
in highly idealistic phrases in which loyalty and devotion to the 
precious heritage of the white race are set forth as the chief 
motive of their activity and the main defense of their program. 
In this sense it may be said that race prejudice takes the form of 
altruistic devotion to the threatened group. The hostility may 
easily masquerade as love, and the wolf of antipathy wears not 
infrequently the sheep's clothing of affection and solicitude for 
the beloved group. 


But here emerges a very interesting and important problem. 
The whole of a series from absolute devotion on one side to com- 
plete rejection on the other would thus seem to be characterized 
as prejudice, and yet prejudice is held to be an undesirable atti- 
tude and is so described in the law books and so treated in the 
administration of justice. Freedom from prejudice is held to 
be the mark of a cultivated member of society. No refinement 
of dialectic seems sufficient to take away a certain moral stigma 
which has always been attached to the term. To be prejudiced 
is to be biased, bigoted, unfair, one-sided. A man may admit 
that he is prejudiced and may even boast of it, but one can also 
admit being blind or can glory in the possession of a goiter. This 
will lead us to suspect that some attitudes of rejection could 
exist which do not deserve the name of prejudice and correspond- 
ing attitudes of approval and loyalty may be described which are 
not even prejudice in favor of their object. 

Just how the nice distinction here involved can be investi- 
gated is an interesting problem for social psychology. The 
research could involve specific inquiry into the exact nature of 
the feelings, their attitudes, their genesis, and above all, their 
immutability. Not to be deflected by any threatened logomachy, 
we can assert that some attitudes which we may call X vary from 
extreme admiration to extreme rejection, and other attitudes, of 
the series F, vary likewise between the two extremes. And these 
differ in some essential respects. The former appear to belong 
to the category of representations collectives which have been fully 
set forth by L&vy-Bruhl. He who holds an attitude of extreme 
prejudice or reacts to an object which has extreme prestige is, 
in the phrase of the French author, " impermeable to experience." 
The attitude is fixed. He is " wedded to the notion/' he believes 
in spite of the facts. Arguments against his view only make him 
worse. If forced to admit the untenable nature of rationaliza- 
tions, he does not give up his prejudice but merely seeks out 
other rationalizations. 

Against this the series Y is more objective. It is called judicial, 
since we expect judges to feel and act that way. Sometimes we 
refer to a scientific attitude or an open-minded attitude. The 
theory of gravitation had high prestige for several generations 
but was abandoned in a short time and without any mental 
discomfort when a few facts were brought against it. Scientific 


theories seem to belong to class 7, though when the partisans 
of rival schools repeat their formulation the latter sometimes 
approach the character of representations collectives, and are 
hardly to be distinguished from the slogans of politicians and 
other conflict groups. The conditions under which these diver- 
gent classes of attitudes are created is a fruitful field for research 
and one which seems to have been relatively uncultivated. The 
term " rationalization" is so useful a word and has so definite a 
meaning that it will never do to apply it to every reason one 
gives to justify his conduct or to defend a conviction. 

There is a sharp difference between emotionally toned non- 
rational attitudes and those other attitudes whose real defense 
is identical with t he expressed reasons. There is knowledge, 
certainty, and conviction; there is opinion and belief, and also 
prejudice. Our knowledge of the exact distinction between them 
awaits the result of the future investigation of some skilled 

We have referred to race prejudice as a collective phenomenon. 
The object has been shown to be a concept. Racial prejudice 
against a man is always against him as belonging to a conceived 
group. Now, this group can be studied by the sociologist for he 
is always at home in studying groups. And if there are found 
two groups in conflict in connection with which prejudice exists, 
it seems always possible to describe them as different. These 
differences can be described in many forms. Physical appear- 
ance is one, including color of the skin, but religion is another 
and very important difference. Language is so important a 
difference that to say "sibboleth" instead of " shibboleth" on 
one occasion cost many thousand people their lives. But pre- 
judice is kept alive, or even at times created, in a situation 
which calls attention chiefly to some other aspect of the collective 
life. A difference in food habits is important. Striking differ- 
ences in dress may be the center of attention. Difference in 
moral codes or variations from the folkways serve at times to 
mark off an out-group and to prevent us from including them 
when we say "we." 

The particular situation determines the gestalt. For purposes 
of political action we may temporarily unite with our religious 
opponents, and such activities tend to mitigate and diminish 
the intensity of race prejudice. 


It is important to observe that where several of these differ- 
ences combine in a single group the prejudice is strengthened 
in intensity and prolonged in time. The perennial nature of 
anti-Semitism is by no means a solved problem, but it seems 
relevant to note that in many cases there is an accumulation of 
these symbolic differences. There is a so-called race of slightly 
different appearance, a different religion, a different dietary, and 
sometimes even a different costume. It would be interesting to 
know whether, if religion, language, food, and dress were identical, 
the race prejudice against the Jew would survive. There is rea- 
son to think that it would not. 

This last remark gives occasion to emphasize an important 
aspect of race prejudice. In the experience of him who mani- 
fests it, the conceptual image of the out-group tends to persist 
as long as any considerable number of the members retain the 
differences, even though most of the out-group have become 
assimilated to other ways of living. It is the poor Yiddish- 
speaking, kosher-eating Jew who is in a large and undetermined 
measure responsible for the attitudes felt toward the completely 
assimilated members of his group. It is the illiterate, unwashed, 
and dissolute Negro who keeps alive the conceptual image which 
is responsible for much of the unjust treatment which wholly 
assimilated members of his race receive. 

In the above suggestions there seem to be also fertile areas of 
investigation. The varying differences, the extent to which they 
are focal in consciousness, and the ease and speed with which 
they are modified could be carefully studied with great profit, 
and the results ought to make significant contributions to what 
we would like to know about race prejudice. 

Another aspect of prejudice which should be studied concerns 
the degree of exclusion or distance. Some work has been done 
in this field already, but much more light is needed. Complete 
assimilation, inclusion, of the other race in the we-group, is one 
limit, the other extreme being the desire to annihilate the out- 
group or the less sanguinary expedient of sending them all across 
the sea or of keeping them there if they already are there. 
Between these extremes the out-group may be permitted to buy 
and sell, but in specified times and places only. They may be 
allowed to use the roads where horses walk, but not the paths 
reserved for foot passengers. A less degree would allow the 


privileges just mentioned, admitting the out-group into the public 
meetings and vehicles, but in a segregated area. To continue 
the series, they might be allowed to attend meetings but would 
be excluded from hotels and restaurants where the in-group go, 
and near the end of the series they would be allowed to attend 
meetings and mingle freely but would not be eligible to legal 

This series is merely suggestive and not at all complete. With 
sufficient patience and industry an exhaustive exhibit could be 
made which would not only give the picture of a situation but 
would include the changes in time. Concerning the conditions 
under which these various items in the mores arose and persisted, 
or did change and modify, the facts seem to be accessible and 
ought to throw much light. The Hindus in Natal are not more 
unwelcome than they are in Vancouver, yet the form of their 
treatment differs widely, and the study of the difference and the 
account of how and why it arose ought to be very valuable 

In the next place, we need a careful study of the decline and 
disappearance of race prejudice. The difference between the 
Norman and the Saxon in England was physically very striking, 
and the student of history knows that the prejudice was very 
strong. The process is called assimilation, and about assimila- 
tion we know much but need to know more. For race prejudice 
seems to go in a cycle. It has a sort of life history. We can 
record in many cases the conditions in a period when it would 
not exist. We can describe the very beginnings and set forth 
the peak. In some cases the cycle has been completed and the 
very conceptual image of the out-group has disappeared from 
human experience. And if a sufficient number of these were 
set forth with completeness and accuracy, the documents would 
be very precious and the insight would have no small value. 

Concerning the relation of race prejudice to argument and 
discussion it would probably be agreed now, in the light of what 
we have come to know of human experience, that the reasons 
assigned, the rationalizations, the derivations are the result not 
of the attitude itself, nor of the object, nor of the situation which 
produced race prejudice. The arguments, reasons, rationaliza- 
tions are the result of controversy. They bear the same relation 
to race prejudice that theology bears to religion. Reasons are 


not essentially the products of the attitude, but rather are they 
separate acts. Arguments are the blows struck in wordy war- 
fare. They are efforts to make ourselves appear rational to 
others or consistent to ourselves. The serious wastes of time 
which well-equipped men have suffered from when they tried to 
discover the attitudes by getting written or oral answers to ques- 
tions is perhaps not too great a price to pay for our progress, but 
surely it is a blunder which need not be repeated. 

When the attitude changes, it must disappear in the melting 
heat of an emotional experience, and the new attitude is molded 
in exactly the same kind of matrix as that which gave form to the 
earlier one which it displaces. And since emotional experiences 
involving race result in attitudes toward a conceptual and not 
a perceptual object, it is possible for this to be vicarious with 
almost an equal effect as if it were personally experienced. 
Indeed, many of our prejudices are formed as a result of artistic 
experience. The Turks are detested by millions of people who 
have never seen a Turk. Instead of seeing the Turk they have 
lived through a dramatic and highly emotional experience where 
the Turk has been blamed for atrocious acts and prejudice 
against him has been strongly formed. 

The cure is similar to the cause. What art gives art can take 
away. Uncle Tom's Cabin produced emotional attitudes and 
occasioned epoch-making changes in the objects which men held 
in mind over a large section of the nation. The Clansman and 
the Birth of a Nation had identical tendencies in the opposite 
direction. Poetry, painting, the novel, and the drama, to which 
may be added that form of literature which we call history, are 
perhaps responsible for more of our prejudices and for more of 
the changes which take place in time than are actual first-hand 

But actual experiences do modify us. An emotional situation 
can never leave us unchanged. Every interesting and sympa- 
thetic contact with an approved member of a despised group is a 
drop of water slowly wearing away the granite of a collective 

Race prejudice may, then, be called a natural phenomenon, 
in the sense that a drought, an earthquake, or an epidemic is a 
natural phenomenon. It is defended by many as desirable; 
it is deprecated by others as an evil. But whether it be good 


or bad and its effects desirable or undesirable, there is every- 
thing to be gained by considering it objectively and by studying 
the conditions under which it appears, the causes of its origin, the 
forms and conditions under which it has increased or decreased 
in intensity, and the questions whether it disappears and why. 
We have much literature on the subject, but most of it might be 
listed as propaganda. If objective social science were to 
proceed to an industrious and indefatigable investigation of this 
perennial aspect of collective life, the results would have much 
theoretical value and would oiler as well useful instruments of 


When Mark Twain went to London to report the celebration 
of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, he wrote of the colossal 
pomp and display. He described the bonfires on the headlands, 
the drilling of the army, and the mobilized fleet, up to that time 
the mightiest armada that had ever assembled. He concluded 
his account with these words: "And I perceive that the English 
are mentioned in the Bible : ' Blessed are the meek for they shall 
inherit the earth.'" 

The irony of this comment was not shared by Kipling, who, 
moved by this same spectacle, wrote his now classic " Reces- 
sional," taking occasion to refer to the Americans in these lines: 

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose 

Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe 
Such boastings as the Gentiles use 
Or lesser breeds without the Law 
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, 
Lest we forget, lest we forget! 

The "lesser breeds without the Law" are the Americans, concern- 
ing whom the opinion of Kipling was never conspicuously 
altitudinous. But he was humbled when he thought of "dune 
and headland" on which the fire had sunk and of the navy that 
had "melted away" "far-called," and kept praying that they 
do not forget. What was it he did not wish to forget? I 
think it was the lessons of history. The English are a proud and 
boastful people, but there may still be read a letter in the original 
Latin addressed by Cicero to Atticus a personal letter in which 
occurs a reference to the purpose of Atticus to buy some more 
slaves. "Whatever you do," Cicero wrote to his friend, "do not 
buy English slaves, for the English people are so dull and stupid 
that they are not fit to be slaves in the household of Atticus." 



In those days Rome was mistress of the world. But even then, 
and much more so a few centuries earlier, the Romans were looked 
down upon with disdain by the Greeks, who called them " bar- 
barians," good enough to kill and fight, but devoid of culture and 
having base souls. 

And there is in Herodotus an account of an old Egyptian priest 
who, turning to a small company of Grecians, said: "You Greeks 
are but children, you have no history, no past, no adequate 

That is enough in that direction. Let us turn the other way. 
A famous anthropologist who has done much work in the South- 
west recently asked me if I know the people in the Texas Pan- 
handle and the exact sociological explanation of the curious 
types of people who made up that eddy in the stream of progress. 
Two weeks later one of my summer students who teaches in a 
college in the same Texas Panhandle sent me with great pride a 
paper written by one of his students. The theme of the paper 
is the superiority of the Texas Panhandlers over all other inhabi- 
tants, though his argument is entirely devoted to showing that 
this superiority is not due to anything innate but is wholly due 
to the fortunate physical environment and resulting social 
conditions. As I recall it, the prairies are quite wide, and they 
had managed to swell out the souls of men to correspond. 

Well, we know the "meekness" of the Calif ornian and the 
"humility" of the inhabitants of Wisconsin, and we are familiar 
with the same phenomenon of assumed superiority not excluding 
even Boston, "that land of the bean and the cod," where the 
Lowells and the Cabots have such a restricted opportunity for 
conversation. The superiority which we assume in our own life 
as compared to that of others is obviously a widespread phenome- 
non. It came as a surprise, however, when scholars discovered 
that this same phenomenon applied also to the savage and primi- 
tive peoples of all the earth. The attitude of the Greenlanders 
when they gave Rasmussen the news of the World War, shows 
that the Eskimo sincerely thinks himself superior to every other 

It would be easy to multiply examples sufficient to warrant 
the generalization that every people, when they contrast them- 
selves with others, regard themselves as superior in essentials in 
so far as they are different. I have read many books about 


superior and inferior peoples and races but have yet to see a 
book written by a member of an inferior race. The apparent 
exception but tests the rule. A subject people may come to 
accept the estimate of themselves which their masters have, but 
in this case they are not independent, and they actually include 
in their notion of themselves the larger group. They are but 
the inferior part of a larger whole. Where they are separate 
and distinct, they think of themselves as superior, whether they 
be Mexicans, Winnebagos, or Melanesians. 

Ethnocentricism, then, being universal, is of small value if 
one wishes to know the facts about comparative ability and 
excellence. If men of every race and people regard themselves 
as superior to those of every other, it is probable that most of 
them are wrong. Mere boasting and group egotism is hardly 
a proof of either excellence or ability. In fact, in personal rela- 
tions we usually regard the boaster and egotist as a person who, 
in the latest scientific slang, is said to suffer from an " inferiority 
complex. " He is said to " compensate " for his feeling of inferior- 
ity by asserting that he is superior. The high-minded man, 
said Aristotle, thought himself to be worthy of high things and 
was worthy of them, but he never walked fast, because there 
was nothing important enough to make him hurry, and he never 
spoke of his enemies unless occasionally he wished to insult them. 
We regard the superior person as one who has the calm of dignity 
and assurance, and the heated and labored arguments which are 
so often printed in these days, in which the writer masses words 
together to show that his folk are better, are hardly the type of 
behavior that a really superior person is assumed to exhibit. 
The psychologists have a familiar concept, that of rationalization. 
It consists, as Robinson says, of "many good reasons instead of 
the real reasons.' 1 It is the process of finding a verbal defense 
with a show of logic to defend an emotional attitude or prejudice 
which is denied or even unconsciously held. The Jews who call 
themselves superior to all the rest of us rationalize by assuming 
that God was the unwise parent of a spoiled child. They were 
the chosen people just as Joseph was the favorite son. Modern 
rationalizers have usually taken another form. They make 
amateur excursions into anthropology and biology. They are 
often quite modest in their knowledge of either, but one of the 
penalties of universal literacy is the dilettantism and patter 


"which enables men who know a little to talk as if they under- 
stood much." 

And so it comes to pass that modern writers whose ethnocen- 
trism is so conspicuous have tended to maintain their position 
by appeals to the biological fact of race. But "race" is a diffi- 
cult word. It is not a fact; it is a concept. If we inquire as to 
the number of races, we learn that some anthropologists make 
three races, others five, and so on through a varying number up 
to nineteen; and the point is that, however many or few there 
may prove to be, they are all made, that is, constructed. The 
members of the human species vary through a continuous series, 
and the division into races has always something in it of the 
arbitrary. It is easy to distinguish the Chinese, the Swedes, and 
the Bantus from one another, but if we try to divide the whole 
of mankind into races, there remain unsolved problems and 
peoples that are not fitted into any division. This does not mean 
that there are no races, but it does mean that men who talk 
glibly about race often do not realize the difficulty of their subject. 

When it comes to estimating the ability of races, the problem 
is infinitely more difficult. Kroeber has pointed out the amusing 
results of an attempt to arrange the apes, Negroes, Mongolians, 
and Caucasians in a series that will show more or less of animal 
characteristics. If one considers the facial angle made by two 
lines drawn from the base of the nose to the orifice of the ear and 
to the front of the skull, respectively, the angle increases on the 
average in the foregoing order: ANMC. But there are other 
characteristics, and some of these are very useful in specifying 
race. For example, hair form is very constant and very useful 
in classifying peoples. The ape's hair is very straight and so is the 
Mongolian's, while the Negro has very crisp or kinky hair, 
the Caucasian falling in between. In taking hair form, therefore, 
the order would be AMCN, the negro being farthest removed 
from the animal. Considering the amount of hair on the body, 
the ape is obviously the most hairy, the Caucasian next, while 
the Mongolian and the Negro are least covered with body hair. 
The order here would be ACMN. The white people are nearest 
the animal in this respect. 

When it comes to the weight of the brain, the facts here are 
not easy to get, because most people use their brains up to the 
last minute and it is not convenient to weigh them separately. 


But so far as the facts have been gathered, the Negroes 1 brains 
are the lightest, while the Mongolians' are the heaviest. The 
order would in this case be ANCM. If the facts about brain 
weight are confirmed by further researches, it will prove to our 
modern writers that brain weight has no relation to ability! 
Race is therefore not only a difficult category to handle accurately, 
but is obviously a factor in civilization that is not necessarily of 
prime importance. The modern movement for testing intel- 
ligence and ability has demonstrated that if we take at random 
a large enough sample of the people in any race, there are some 
who are very low in ability and others who are high. The dis- 
tribution of ability and excellence lies, therefore, within the race, 
and the only way that one race could be compared with another 
in ability would be to compare the average. If the average 
Eskimo is lower in intelligence than the average Caucasian, it 
has not been proved; and there is at present no way of proving, 
or indeed of disproving it. 

The statement of this fact would give us very little under- 
standing of any particular Eskimo compared with any particular 
American. The average wealth of Americans is far higher than 
the average wealth of Mexicans, but there are some Ameri- 
can college professors who could afford to retire if they could 
have as capital the annual income of some of the Mexican 

The technical question involved here is essentially that of 
heredity. It is an old problem and very much alive at the pres- 
ent time. New light is appearing, as gifted men work in their 
laboratories with disinterested devotion. The biologists are 
conscious of problems, no end of them, which the popularizer has 
never dreamed existed. In a recent book by Jennings are given 
the results of some experiments. A fish with bilateral eyes was 
put into another medium than the salt water where it normally 
lived. When the eggs of this fish were hatched, the progeny 
developed a cyclopean eye; that is, just one in the middle of the 
head. This characteristic or mutation was inherited from genera- 
tion to generation. When, however, the eggs of this one-eyed 
fish were transferred to the original medium, the progeny devel- 
oped bilateral eyes as their ancestors had done. Professor Childs, 
describing experiments on the Planarium, a little worm, says that 
when cut in two the animal does not die; instead there are two 


worms where one grew before. The tail develops a head on the 
wounded end, the head end develops a tail. If a Planarium is cut 
into three pieces, two new heads will develop and two new tails, 
the heads developing on the end that was nearest the head and 
the tails developing on the ends nearest the original tails. If, 
however, an electric current be sent in the reverse direction 
through the middle section of the Planariwn, a head will develop 
on the tail end and a tail on the head end. So far as these two 
experiments generate a hypothesis, it is this, that the biological 
characteristics depend in part on heredity and in part upon the 
medium in which the development takes place and the treatment 
to which the inherited substance is subjected. 

There are analogous facts in the realm of human nature. Con- 
sider the Janizaries. For centuries the Turks had the practice 
of demanding small boys from the Christian population. Such 
Christian boys were brought up as Mohammedans. They were 
fanatical Mohammedans and, to make the irony complete, were 
used as guards and troops against the Christians. This extreme 
case could be matched by many others of a similar character 
throughout the pages of history. The third generation of immi- 
grants in America, in the cases where they have gone through 
the public schools and mingled freely with the people of other 
races, are on the whole indistinguishable from the people of the 
earlier immigration. 

Some years ago Israel Zangwell wrote a play which he called 
The Melting Pot. It tried to establish the thesis that in America 
a new race is forming to which the different peoples each make a 
contribution. In a more recent book by Mr. Fairchild the whole 
doctrine of the melting pot is vigorously attacked. Mr. Fair- 
child insists that characters are national and cannot be blended 
or melted or molded. They can only be mixed, he says, and the 
mixture is disastrous. 

But one should consider carefully what it is to be an American. 
We can speak with a certain poetical license of a soul of America. 
The "soul of America " means to me a convenient and poetical 
way to designate the mores, traditions, legends, expressions, and 
ideals which form a consistent and historical tradition which 
Americans may quite accurately be said to share together. I 
know a man who was born in Europe and educated in a foreign 
language, and whose traditions and religious ideas were utterly 


alien to those prevailing here. In early life he came to America, 
lived with his uncle, took up his education in America in the 
Middle West, and now I should call him an American. He 
speaks English without any accent; he knows and reveres our 
history, our poetry, and our traditions. He shares our political 
and social ideals, has married a native American girl, and is the 
father of a native American child. His baby is being brought 
up in every respect as millions of American children are being 
brought up, and there is absolutely no occasion for denying the 
fact of complete assimilation in the case I am describing. 

The argument of Mr. Fairchild and those writers who believe 
as he does depends on the answer given to the crucial question, 
Is assimilation a possibility? It seems possible to convince any 
serious student that the personality of a man is the result of his 
experience, and that if children are born and brought up in the 
midst of a given civilization, they will take it on; and in America, 
where the public schools are literally serving as the melting pot 
of the masses, this process can be observed by anyone who will 
take the trouble to go and look at it. 

Those who make arguments upon inherited race characteristics 
are not conversant with the known facts, for human nature is 
not a racial characteristic it is a cultural or civilizational phe- 
nomenon. The same stock in a different situation produces an 
entirely different set of characteristics, and a casual reading of 
history will convince anyone that cultural traits change, not only 
with the longitude, but also with the calendar. There was a 
time when men wrote convincingly of the sheeplike docility of 
the Russians. That was prior to 1905 for the most part, but 
certainly not subsequent to 1917. The racial characteristics 
of the Russians are modified by their revolutionary experiences, 
and so with all races. 

The question of superiority and inferiority when applied to 
races is clearly beyond the possibility of cold scientific treatment. 
The difficulty is that we cannot find disinterested judges. But 
we are accustomed to think of superior people as those who are 
at least free from boasting and obtrusive assertion of their supe- 
rior excellence. We are accustomed to discount the claims of 
individuals for superiority if they insist on asserting it overmuch. 
And it does seem that we might safely assert that a freedom from 
narrowness and prejudice, from sectarian or partisan or religious 


or sectional bias, should be expected of those whom we call 

The soul of America has been influenced and molded in no 
small degree by the teachings of the Greek and Roman philoso- 
phers, but even more by the ethical teachings of the Christian 
church. The ideals of our people have always included gener- 
osity, sympathy, kindness, and good will. We have tried to be 
the haven of the oppressed and the champion of the weak. 

The program suggested by some, and even boldly outlined by 
others, that we should protect our precious racial germ plasm by 
being hard on the inferior races, amounts, it seems, to this tragic 
paradox: "This is the best civilization because our racial germ 
plasm is superior. The superiority of our germ plasm consists 
in its being the carrier of a civilization. But since the germ plasm 
is in danger of extermination, we should protect the civilization 
which the germ plasm bears by being narrow, hardhearted, and 
cruel. We are to put up the inner and the outer dikes against 
the rising tide of color. If the inferior races attempt to come, 
we must keep them away. We should intimidate them and, if 
necessary, kill them." In other words, it is proposed to defend 
civilization by uncivilized methods. 

It would seem that, if they are correct who so advise, we are 
lost either way. If we remain civilized and cultured, the lower 
races will displace us. If we defend ourselves, we no longer can 
do it without being barbarous and cruel. We shall then become 
as the lower races whom we are now striving to keep down. 

In order to be superior, we must act inferior. We Nordics are 
in a dilemma. 

In order to understand the question of civilization, we must 
consider not only the factor of race but also the factor of culture. 
The culture of a people, as the phrase is used by sociologists and 
anthropologists, includes their language, social customs, tradi- 
tions, and ways in which the problems of associated life are met. 
Now it is easy to show that the culture of a people is not neces- 
sarily limited to any one racial stock. The culture of the French 
is shared by three races of the Caucasoid group, and the religion 
of the Western world can be introduced, and has been introduced, 
successfully among peoples which differ very widely in racial 
characteristics. The technical mastery of nature which modern 
science has made possible is a phenomenon of industrial Japan, 


even more conspicuously than of some of the Caucasian races in 
southeastern Europe. So far as any facts will warrant our 
making conclusions, there seems to be no limit to the ability of 
one race in taking over the technical achievements of another. 
The Central African Bantus can learn to use pen or pencil and 
write their language in Latin characters in a shorter time than is 
required to teach English or American children, owing to the 
fact that their language is spelled phonetically. The history of 
the ability of the Mexican Indians in taking over the railway 
system, not only as conductors and guards but as engineers and 
telegraph operators, is another of the hundreds of examples of 
this fact. Civilization is, therefore, a matter of tradition; it is 
a culture heritage; it is transmitted by means of contacts, some- 
times formally in schools, at times informally by means of appren- 
ticeships or family contacts. But transmitted it is; it is not 
inherited and seems to be quite independent of the biological 
differences that divide races. 

It would be unfortunate should the reader consider that the 
matter in question is settled in a way that admits of dogmatic 
and final statements. On the contrary, the sociologist and the 
social worker alike realize that here is a vast and fruitful field for 
investigation. The conclusion is therefore negative. We have 
much to learn about races and cultures. Most of the knowledge 
that our children will use is yet to be discovered. Nay, the very 
methods for obtaining that knowledge are, for the most part, 
yet to be worked out. What we should protest against with all 
our force is the confident dogmatism of anyone. Let pseudo- 
scientists lay down decalogues to presidents of republics. What 
we should seek for is a method of research that would give us 
more of wisdom. To such as speak so confidently we feel con- 
strained to reply, in a recently revived word of Cromwell : 

" Brethren, I beseech ye, by the bowels of Christ, bethink ye 
lest perhaps ye may be mistaken." 


The national Conference of Jews and Christians is a sort of 
permanent religious disarmament conference with a history of 
several years of energetic activity. Under Protestant auspices 
it has brought together representatives of the three faiths to 
discuss points of tension and to promote understanding by means 
of round-table seminars. Eventually they came to feel the need 
of facts, and the volume by Silcox and Fisher 1 is the result of an 
attempt to meet this need. 

In January, 1933, the Institute of Social and Religious Research 
approved a study requested by the Conference of Jews and 
Christians which was to be a series of " community case studies " 
for the purpose of discovering the actual contacts and relation- 
ships, locating the difficulties as well as the forces making for 
understanding and cooperation. The two authors spent six 
months gathering material but abandoned the original plan and 
wrote the report on the basis of "cursory studies" in thirteen 
cities in the United States and three in Canada, besides " inciden- 
tal studies" in New York, Philadelphia, and Newark nineteen 
cities in all. Limited by lack of funds, they present the material 
topically, treating the subjects of discrimination and social dis- 
tance, relations in social work, education, intermarriage, prose- 
lyting, and cooperation. 

The motive which prompted the preparation of the bool^ was 
undoubtedly irenic, and the authors present their findings and 
opinions with a manifest desire to be objective, but the report 
will not please all who read it. Many Catholics and Jews will 
object strenuously to certain passages, and Protestant readers 
will differ widely in their reaction. 

1 SILCOX, CLARIS EDWIN and FISHER, GALEN, Catholics, Jews and Protes- 
tants: A Study of Relationships in the United States and Canada. New York 
and London: Harper & Brothers (published for the Institute of Social and 
Religious Research), 1934. Pp. xvi-f369. 



Just how far it is possible to mitigate strife by getting at the 
underlying facts may depend largely on the type of conflict. 
Arbitration and mediation have often worked well in civil dis- 
putes and in international relations. Whether racial strife and 
religious conflict are equally subject to the same sort of objec- 
tive arbitration may be questioned. It may well be that politi- 
cal conflict differs essentially from the struggles between races 
and religions. 

Conflict between nations, leading to war, is, of all forms of 
strife, the most intense and the least enduring. It is also very 
formal, with a ceremonial beginning or declaration and a cere- 
monial ending or treaty. That the treaty often ends the conflict 
completely is witnessed by many alliances between former 

Religious conflict and racial conflict differ from it in both these 
respects. There is no formal beginning and there is no formal or 
ceremonial ending. There is no declaration of war, nor can 
there be any treaty of peace. In the case of nations there are 
formal representatives duly accredited, ministers and plenipo- 
tentiaries who can speak authoritatively. In race conflict this is 
impossible. The race has no representative. There can be no 
formal contacts or communications with the race as a whole. In 
the very nature of the relations there cannot be any accredited 

Religious conflict might conceivably have somewhat more of 
a formal beginning and ending, for it is possible to have organi- 
zation, and in the case of the Catholic church there are duly 
accredited representatives clothed not with delegated power 
but with omnipotent or, at least infallible, authority, and even 
though the Protestants are not so well organized, yet there are 
federations that might be thought to make it possible for some 
analogy to the relation between nations to obtain. Yet this is 
not and cannot be the case. 

For there is another important difference between national 
conflict and religious strife. The differences between nations 
are open to discussion and negotiation. The quarrel is over 
public acts or utterances that are apparent to all and that can 
be defended or disallowed. If it is possible for the diplomats 
to compromise the differences, the war may be prevented, and 
many times the whole matter can be left to an impartial arbi- 


trator to decide according to his conception of justice. The two 
parties are in theory and in dignity equal. They come together 
to discuss the differences and the issues which threaten their 
peace and to decide them after discussion. But religious con- 
flict differs essentially from strife between nations, and the 
difference is so profound that it modifies completely the possi- 
bility of a formal ending of the strife and conflict. With unim- 
portant exceptions, which are really not exceptions at all, the 
issues between religious groups who are in conflict are not debat- 
able and are not subject to discussion. Round-table conferences 
which include Catholics, Jews, and Protestants have been held 
and will be held again, but those who have held them will recog- 
nize the exact truth of this statement just made. Round-table 
conferences are at best futile, though they do help the minority 
party. For religious groups are not free to compromise, and the 
essentials of the faith are so sacred that they are not subject to 
discussion and debate. The essential articles of the creed are 
not of human but divine origin, and each one of the conflicting 
parties feels that he has no power to compromise with what 
heaven has commanded. Moreover, the Catholic church and 
the Protestant church are pre-eminently imperialistic. The map 
of Africa, and indeed the map of every religious field, is divided 
off into territories which each missionary organization claims. 
These fields are to be cultivated by the different societies, and 
the map divides the whole territory. But there is not one map 
but two, and every Protestant society has its field of territory 
which it claims for its own, and these Protestant fields overlap 
completely those claimed by the Catholics. The conflict between 
Protestantism and Catholicism is, therefore, a conflict between 
two groups, both of whom claim universality, hope to convert 
the entire world, and have central objects of belief that are sacred 
and not open to discussion. This makes a different type of strife 
from that which obtains between nations. 

Race conflict is quite different from national and from religious 
conflict. It is even more informal. It does have a beginning in 
every case, but the beginning is hard to locate in time; and there 
does sometimes come an end, but the end is so gradual that no 
one knows when it has arrived. But the phenomena of racial 
strife have other fundamental differences. While nations fight 
other nations for something that is done, or threatened to be 


done, and while religions strive with other religions for what 
they believe and say, there is, in the case of the religions and of 
the nations, the possibility of change. But racial conflict is 
founded not on what people do or think or believe, but on what 
they are, and what they are cannot be changed. The basis of 
the classification is assumed to be biological and, therefore, 

It is quite proper to urge that some races are so called with- 
out any warrant in anthropology or biology for the designation. 
While this may be exactly true, it makes no difference whatever 
in the nature of racial conflict. From the standpoint of sociol- 
ogy a race is not one which is anthropologically different or 
biologically demonstrated. A race with which people are in 
conflict is a group of people who are considered as a race, and 
these thoughts or considerations are determinative in conduct 
and in attitude. Racial conflict is, therefore, the most enduring 
of all. The outcome may be the submission of one or a state 
of accommodation or the amalgamation by intermarriage until 
there is a blending of the two races. 

The conflict between Jews everywhere and those among whom 
they live is a racial conflict. That the Jews belong to a separate 
biological race is doubtful and perhaps not true. Nevertheless, 
the conflict is sociologically racial, for they are regarded as a 
separate race, are treated as a separate race, and hold themselves 
together as if they were a separate race. Racial conflict may 
exist by itself, when the religion of the two races is the same, as 
among the Negroes and the whites in America, or religious con- 
flict may exist without racial differentiation; but when the two 
come together, and two groups differ both in race and in religion, 
the intensity of the conflict is increased. The Jews are therefore 
the object of attention on two counts race and religion and 
growing out of these two there is a third difference, that of culture. 
And when a group highly conscious of itself is conspicuous, easily 
identified, and numerous to the number of several million, 
differing in religion, culture, and race, it would seem easy to 
assume that conflict would arise. Add to these factors the com- 
petition for status and for economic opportunity of the alien 
minority and their own determination to be separate and unmixed, 
preserving a foreign culture of their own, and the essential condi- 
tions of anti-Semitic conflict may be assumed to be present. 


Whether the Jews live in the city or the country or preponderantly 
in one or the other seems to have little relevance. Whether they 
engage in manufacture or business or banking, or whether they 
enter professions or become owners of moving pictures or writers 
of books seems to make little difference. What is important is 
that they compete with the majority, either for status or for 
monetary advantage; and prejudice against them is the result 
of the social order in its efforts to resist unwelcome change. The 
fact that Jews Have historically been moneylenders or merchants 
is seen to be of minor importance considering the fact that there 
is widespread discrimination against Jews in academic life, even 
extending to the exclusion of Jewish students from medical and 
other schools. 

For it must not be forgotten that social attitudes, particularly 
collective social attitudes, are not limited to the occasions which 
call them forth. Once the attitude has been established in a 
given society, it may persist long after the actual occasion which 
gave rise to it. The attitude of hostility toward the Jewish race 
is against a group which is not really a race at all, and it arose in 
historic times long ago. Nevertheless, the attitude persists and 
seems to be perennial. The self-conscious group is opposed. 
The opposition increases the self-consciousness, and the increased 
self-consciousness in turn makes greater the opposition. And 
so the vicious cycle proceeds. 

Race prejudice and race conflict sometimes end, but they take 
a long time to end. Conflicts between nations may end quickly 
when one party will agree to do something which the other one 
demands. Even religious conflict would end if one would give 
up and accept the faith of the other. But racial conflict cannot 
end in the same way because the Jew cannot cease to be a Jew. 
He does not want to cease to be a Jew, but if he did want to, he 
could not. The attitude is therefore directed against what is 
assumed to be inevitable and unalterable. The only way a Jew 
could cease to be a Jew would be to have one or both parents not 
Jews, but marriages are not made by policy-makers; they occur 
when two people decide to mate. This in the nature of the case 
is a slow process; and when the whole culture and educational 
training and racial pride of a people unite to prevent this from 
happening and to discourage it in every way, it eventually and 
inevitable prolongs the conflict. 


Not that the Jew is to be blamed, because, as we have said, 
in a sociological study no one is to be blamed, but certainly the 
Jew is least of all to be blamed. 

The Jew should not change, because he cannot. No one ought 
to do what he cannot do. His values are as sacred as his neigh- 
bor's. His desire for status is surely as intense as that of those 
around him. His love for his children is as great and his ambi- 
tion for their success is as high. Moreover, his effort to gather 
his children into schools to revive the ancient, sacred language, 
and to indoctrinate the young into the traditions of the race so 
that they may develop their own life and get an enhanced sense 
of the value of their own culture all these things they must do 
lest they be swallowed up, lest Israel die and disappear. But he 
feels that Israel must not die or disappear. The cause of Israel 
is sacred; it is holy. The question is not debatable; it is a com- 
pulsion, and so the Jews go on as they have gone on for ages, and 
so they will go on as they must. 

Intermarriage is rightly regarded as dangerous to the sacred 
cause. In orthodox Jewry it is the occasion for the saying of 
prayers for the dead. It must be discouraged and is discouraged. 
Such mixed marriages are not infrequent and seem to be increas- 
ing, but they are relatively few, and the melting-pot is held by 
Jews and neighbors alike to be an inaccurate and undesirable 
metaphor. They do not want to melt. They refuse to be assimi- 
lated. They prefer to be undigested. 

But if we are to understand the desire of the Jew to remain 
separate, we must take into account, as well, that the reaction of 
those with whom he competes is also due to an attitude which 
cannot be controlled. War against the nation is directed against 
an alien abroad. Conflict in religion is directed against an erring 
brother who ought to come back to the fold. But conflict in 
racial relations is directed to an alien in the midst who belongs 
to a different kind and yet who insists on trying to obtain all 
the values which the society offers to its own. There seems to be 
no alternative to prejudice, resentment, discrimination, and at 
times persecution, human nature being what it is. The history 
of the Jews from Nebuchadnezzar to Hitler has shown what 
this type of conflict turns out to be. The pride of the Jewish race 
is its continuity. Its opponent regards this as the chief reproach 
against the race. But to the Jew this is indeed the highets 


social value, so precious that he has been willing to pay for it 
with thousands of years of suffering. It is still so treasured that 
he has been willing to pay whatever price is necessary in order 
to retain it. There may be some who think it can be retained 
without paying a price, but the sociologist sees no warrant for 
this assumption. Assimilation would indeed be loss and death, 
but on the other hand it would be union and peace. There 
seems to be not the slightest reason to expect assimilation to 
take place, but there is even less reason to expect the disappear- 
ance of discrimination and prejudice if the separation continues. 
Men may legally and freely worship God according to their own 
conscience, but they cannot be guaranteed acceptance into the 
voluntary associations whose members wish to discriminate. 

The conflict between Catholics and Protestants is all the more 
difficult because it is a kind of family quarrel. The Catholic 
holds to most of the essentials of the faith which the Protestant 
regards as sacred. He differs only in a few respects, and these 
differences could easily be settled if he would consent to change, 
and he would not have to change very much. But the little that 
he would have to change is important so important that it is 
again sacred, undebatable, not to be discussed or arbitrated. 
Nations fight against nations for specific acts. Races contend 
against races on account of unalterable facts. But religious con- 
flict is concerned with what people believe, and it is assumed that 
they can change their belief if they would be willing to accept the 
truth. And some of them, of course, do accept it. There are 
Catholics who are converted to Protestantism, and Protestants 
who are converted to Catholicism. If all Catholics would 
embrace Protestantism, the conflict would cease. If all Protes- 
tants would embrace Catholicism, there would be no more diffi- 
culty. Each party hopes eventually to conquer all the rest, but 
in the meantime the bitterness of the family quarrel remains. 
There is no more irreconcilable enemy of the Catholic church than 
a converted priest. There is no more enthusiastic Catholic than 
one who has come to that church from Protestantism. The 
refusal of one to accept the teachings of the other may indeed be 
laid down to ignorance, but even ignorance has some culpability, 
for there is always someone ready to enlighten, and when a man 
is not only ignorant but stubbornly refuses to accept the truth, 
he becomes a very easy mark for persecution and discrimination. 


The pope may speak on the radio to the whole wide world, 
but the best word he can have for the Protestants is an admoni- 
tion to the heretics who should accept the faith to return to the 
one true, universal church. He cannot do otherwise, for he has 
a sacred trust. But the Protestant has his own access to the 
sacred writing on which he considers the church to be founded. 
He believes that Christ demands his allegiance to another way 
of life. He cannot do otherwise; God help him. His values are 
equally sacred, undebatable, not to be discussed or compromised. 

Facts like these furnish, perhaps, the best explanation of why 
the word " in tolerance" belongs peculiarly to religious conflict. 
He who knows so much of the truth and has accepted so large 
a part of the sacred body of doctrine and yet refuses to accept 
the rest of it seems destined to be regarded as a man with a stub- 
born will. To permit him to go his way would be to show indif- 
ference to sacred truth. Moreover, his evil example may lead 
others to perdition. Therefore, one should be intolerant toward 
him and if necessary persecute him for the good of his soul and 
the souls of others whom he might lead astray. 

But we must be on our guard against the assumption that 
what characterizes the Christian religion is necessarily true of 
all religions everywhere. Without going into the matter fully, 
for lack of time and space, the assertion is ventured that intoler- 
ance is particularly at home among those religions which have 
come down from the Semitic tradition. It has always charac- 
terized Christianity, and it is certainly indigenous to Moham- 
medanism. Moreover, there is abundant evidence in the sacred 
writings that intolerance was no stranger to Judaism when its 
people had the power of numbers. In Egypt, Greece, and Rome 
religions were certainly less intolerant and more humane. In 
the modern world the primitive people, all of whom have religion, 
are remarkably tolerant and hospitable to any new message which 
a religious teacher will bring among them. The most outstand- 
ing example of religious tolerance is perhaps to be found in China, 
where it is hardly too much to say that three religions live side 
by side in complete harptiony. There are millions of Chinese 
who worship devoutly in the temples of three separate religions 
existing side by side. They go to the Confucian temple to honor 
the sage, and on set occasions and high holidays they also go to 
the Buddhist and to the Taoist temples. The Semitic traditions 


from which Christianity and Mohammedanism both sprang are 
the most intolerant of all. Perhaps it is due to two aspects of 
these religions: first, the claim to universality and absolute 
dominion; second, the divine character of their revelation, 
giving them an unalterable system from which they are not 
at liberty to diverge. 

But there is another aspect of the conflict between Catholics 
and Protestants which is worth noting. It is indeed true that 
the issues are framed in terms of theological differences and 
written creeds which must be assented to, but these are not so 
unalterable as other elements. The conflict between funda- 
mentalists and modernists in Protestantism becomes at times 
very bitter and would seem absolutely irreconcilable, and yet 
the sociologist can confidently predict an end to this religious 
warfare. It will come about through discussion and the gradual 
modification of the points of view of one or both or because 
the issues will some day seem to be outgrown. But in the case 
of the Catholic and Protestant controversy there is in addition 
to creed and article of faith another important difference, namely, 
that of culture. 

Catholicism is more than a religion and a creed. It is professedly 
a culture, and the sociologist is in complete agreement with this 
claim. Now, cultural differences, while more vague and unde- 
fined than creedal ones, are much more stubborn and more diffi- 
cult to alter. The mores of a people are never the result of 
deliberate formulations. They are collective phenomena which 
grow up without planning, and, having grown up, they are non- 
logical in their origins and in their character. Attachment to 
them is deep-rooted in the emotional life of the people. More- 
over, the mores are forever true and right from the standpoint 
of those who accept them, and they are likewise sacred and not 
open to debate. But being ways of acting, in addition to ways 
of talking and believing, they are much less easily altered and 
much more resistant to change. The conflict is between two 
peoples who feel in some degree alien to each other. It tends 
further to intensify the fratricidal war, which is the type of con- 
flict in most religious controversies. 

It is not the intention to present a pessimistic statement. No 
statement is pessimistic if true. If it be not true, it matters 
little whether it be pessimistic or optimistic. Jews might con- 


ceivably give up their separatism, gladly becoming at one with 
the culture of the people where they live; Catholics might con- 
vert all the Protestants; Protestants might convert all the 
Catholics; some union might arise which would be a blending 
of both of these, but these events are too remote for serious 

And if the conflict is to endure for a long time, it is well to 
know that and be prepared for it. A passionate lover of peace is 
not inconsistent in advocating a navy, if war seems inevitable. 
We cannot be accused of desiring arson if we organize a fire 
department. We have a duty to face the facts if we can discover 

And if it be that the conflict is inevitable we may expect the 
three groups in question to press the conflict. Victory being 
remote, either surrender or renewed combat would seem the 
alternatives. One war is named from its duration of thirty 
years; and another is known as the Hundred Years' War. The 
conflict between Catholics and Protestants has gone on for more 
than four hundred years, and between Jews and their neighbors 
in every land for more than two thousand years. And since 
neither side is ready to give in, let them continue to fight it out. 
And if they fight, let them fight hard. Fighting is to be avoided 
if feasible, but to strike softly is not merciful; it is foolish. If 
you must hit, hit hard. 

But hard fighting does not mean unfair fighting. Even carnal 
warfare has its mitigations, its Red Cross. The religious wars 
of the future may be expected to be conducted with less ferocity 
than in the past. Indeed, much mitigation has already been 
achieved. We do not now employ the thumbscrew and the 
rack for the glory of the Lord. Men are not now burned at the 
stake for heresy. The intolerance, bigotry, and persecution of 
our day is more negative, more in the nature of exclusion from 
privileges because of nonconformity than of efforts to force 

Those who feel distress at the strife, the waste, the needless 
suffering, and the unholy bitterness can do much to call atten- 
tion to the injury that comes from fighting with the wrong 
weapons. They can remind the minorities of the effects of their 
procedure that are irritating; they can admonish the majority; 
and they can help to create a public to which both parties to a 


conflict must ultimately look. For the public wants justice and 
admires fair play, even in a fight. 

Prejudice is narrowing. It is a form of emotional and intel- 
lectual indolence. It is a refusal to make distinctions while 
reacting to a stereotype. Prejudice toward a racial or a religious 
group is a collective phenomenon with roots in the distant past. 
Not being individual, it cannot be changed by any number of 
individuals, however well meaning. But something can be 
done ; and every generous act and every noble utterance on the 
subject has its effect, however small. And it is possible to have 
strong convictions and unyielding loyalty without wasteful 
hatred or harmful intolerance, meanwhile fighting valiantly for 
a cause. 

Cooperation is the most important means of reducing preju- 
dice. Perhaps it is the only effective way. The volume we are 
considering has a chapter on this subject, and there could be 
no more important one. For what sociologists call the primary- 
group attitude seems essential for the overcoming of unfriendli- 
ness. To find or to create a situation in which the feeling of " we " 
arises is to form bonds that unite. Whoever brings Catholic and 
Protestant together where they speak of each other as cooperat- 
ing members of a group, where they develop a feeling of "we" 
and learn to say "our" and "us," whoever brings a Jew and 
another into such a unity, has done something to make the 
ravages of prejudice less severe. 

The effects of such contact and cooperation must not be 
exaggerated. Sometimes they are very transitory. To expect 
too much is to risk disappointment and to invite reaction. He 
who tries to mitigate prejudice must be like a man who plants 
an orchard in his old age, knowing that he himself will never 
eat of the fruit of the trees. 

There is, finally, another possibility that might conceivably 
end the conflict of Catholic and Jew and Protestant, not so 
remote as to be unthinkable, and that is the triumph, or even the 
threatened triumph, of irreligion. Militant atheism and violent 
opposition to all religion is seen in more than one nation today. 
Should this thing grow, there might be a great change in the 
attitudes and practices of the servants of the God of love toward 
one another. Followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, who 
taught universal love, even of one's enemies, might cease 


their persecution of each other and turn their attention to the 

But the triumph of atheism is not even a present threat and 
the harmony of all those who profess to follow Jesus Christ is, 
therefore, remote. Still more distant is the unity of all those 
who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 


A gifted Christian leader whose words carry weight wherever 
they are read, published an article under the title, "If I Were a 
Jew," in The Christian of July 29, 1933. It may be that a con- 
trasting view of the Jewish question will be welcomed by those 
who read The Christian. 

If I were a Jew, I should arrange to be born in America. And 
I should not be ashamed of being either a Jew or an American. 
I could and should take pride in being a Jew, knowing that every 
human being can and most human beings do take pride in being 
what they are. For from China to Peru it is possible to find 
heroes of the past who shed glory on the strugglers of the present. 

But I should not make any extravagant or unique claims for 
my heritage. The Jews did not invent religion. They did not 
first advocate monotheism. Professor Breasted has proved that 
Egyptian teachers believed in a single God centuries before the 
Hebrews learned of the idea. Nor did the Jews invent righteous- 
ness, fair play, sympathy, kindness, or any of the virtues. One 
finds all of these written on the tablets of the hearts of the 
heathen. Men have always and everywhere taught that one 
should love his neighbor as himself: the great question is as to 
who that neighbor is. The Jewish teaching of the present on 
moral questions is high, but no higher than the teachings of many 
other faiths. So, if I were a Jew, I should not claim that I was 
holier than other men or that my people were holier than other 

If I were a Jew, I should regard the " survival" of my people 
as a reproach to be lived down and not as a virtue to be boasted 
about and gloried in. For every race has, in some true sense, 
survived. The Goths, the Nordic French, the Aryans of India, 
have all survived, but they have mingled their blood and their 
virtues with the people where they live and have made their 
contribution in the best way, by becoming one with their neigh- 



bors. The " survival" of the Jew as a separate cultural group 
means only that the Jew is unassimilable, an indigestible mass, 
refusing to be incorporated into the common life. I should not 
say that "the mission of the Jew is to suffer," thereby receiving 
false comfort by blaming that suffering on the evils of others, 
from Nebuchadnezzar to Hitler. I should do what I could in 
one earnest lifetime to overcome that isolation which has caused 
rivers of blood to flow and which is still destined to bring much 
needless woe to innocents unborn. 

But I should realize, if I were a Jew, that the hatred of my 
people had understandable causes and could be overcome with 
time and patience and intelligence. I should try to make my 
life a recommendation to the Gentile world, who would revise 
their opinion of my people a little because of what they could 
see in me. So I should not keep myself apart from those who were 
ready to accept me. For this reason I should disregard all the 
useless and cumbersome and superstitious practices that are so 
divisive and so out of harmony with modern life. I should not 
refuse to eat good boiled ham, or oysters, or catfish. I should 
insist on sanitary methods of slaughtering animals, but I should 
not refuse to eat chicken unless its killing was a religious and 
ritualistic act, nor regard good steak as something sinful to eat. 
A Jew in Chicago brought suit against a merchant who sold him 
ice cream by mistake instead of sherbet, for the guests ate the 
ice cream after they had partaken of meat and became very angry. 
I should not do such things. 

Nor should I be impatient with my brethren and friends who 
still do them. I should not blame them. Nor should I blame 
their neighbors for discriminating against them. I should not 
waste time in blaming anyone but should use my influence in 
removing the causes and trying to overcome the evils of tribalism 
and separation. It was Israel Zangwill who once wrote this: 

How odd 
Of God 
To choose 
The Jews. 

Like Zangwill, I should believe in the melting pot and be an 
assimilationist. I should regard Washington and Lincoln as my 
national heroes, and all the saints and heroes of all ages as my 


heritage. I should prize the seamless robe of American citizen- 
ship as a birthright. I should be an internationalist in sympathy 
just as so many Christians are, but not as a Jew. And for this 
reason I should deprecate Zionism as an impracticable and unsuc- 
cessful effort to solve a problem by running away from it. For 
no one can be a citizen of the new state in Palestine and at the 
same time a citizen of America. If the persecuted in Europe 
can be moved to a better land to their advantage, I should help 
if I could, but the Jews have no right to Palestine other than the 
right of conquest, and they were defeated so long ago that to 
restore them now would be as unjust as to give New York City 
to the Indians. 

Zionism rests for foundation on the fine rhetoric of writers 
who lived ages before anyone had dreamed of the possibility of 
the existence of England, France, or America. To make those 
fervid utterances the basis of a political program for this century 
is to disregard intelligent realities for a dangerous and disturbing 
romanticism. The Jews had the misfortune to be taught the 
Phoenician art of writing far too early. The savage fighter who 
massacred the men, women, and children of the Amelekites, 
reserving the king to be butchered by a fanatical prophet, 
belonged to a tribe which refused pork as a religious duty but ate 
grasshoppers, as did the other natives of the region. And since 
the early books are always sacred books, those superstitious 
practices have descended to an age when they are no longer 
harmless but perennially divisive. 

If I were a Jew, I should marry for love but I should try to 
marry a non- Jewish girl. There are excellent eugenic arguments 
for crossings of this sort and, if fate should work out this way, 
the gesture and example would count for much. For I should 
not want to separate. I should be unable to find the precious 
values in Judaism which it is their "duty" to give the world. 
What is it in the Jewish tradition that is worth so much? Is it 
the making of money? Or the lending of it? Or sharp bargain- 
ing? Or offensive aggressiveness? No, these are the taunts 
of the enemies of the Jews who thus justify their persecution and 
injustice. But what are they? Monotheism? We do not need 
a separate people to teach that. Honor, virtue, brotherhood? 
Is that a Jewish monopoly? The music of Mendelssohn? That 
is very German and hardly came from the rams' horns of the 
temple. The philosophy of Spinoza? That was written by a 


Jew, but he was trained in the language and tradition and thought 
of a far later time than that of Amos or Micah, and the outcome 
was very different. The science of Einstein? His work is no 
more Jewish than is the use of internal combustion engines. 

But even if there were unique contributions in Jewish life, 
the best way to give them to the world would be not to try to 
hold them back but to join, as all other races in America have 
joined, in gladly contributing to a common way of living, just 
as my Scotch ancestors did when they decided that this land was 
a good land to live in. 

If I were a Jew, I should realize that the prejudice, discrimina- 
tion, injustice, and persecution of my people could not be quickly 
overcome. It will endure for a long time. It will outlive anyone 
now living. It has endured so long partly on account of the 
evil doings of Gentiles and partly on account of the mistaken 
actions of Jews. But I should regard it as a condition which 
might and should disappear. I should, therefore, expect to 
suffer injustice, but I should do all I could to change the condi- 
tions and to alter the attitudes of my people. It is not necessary 
in America to abandon one's religion to escape injustice. It is 
necessary to abandon divisive tribalism, and I should devote 
myself in a quiet way to the effort. 

If I were a Jew, I should do these things. How do I know I 
would? Because I know many Jews who are doing and saying 
just these things. In the universities of America there are 
students in the courses and professors on the faculties who are 
living examples of the feelings, the attitudes, and the practices 
I have set forth. Sometimes a stranger meets one of my Jewish 
friends without knowing that he is a Jew, and is surprised, saying 
that he cannot be a Jew since he is so likable. And I say to him 
that my friend is, by his life, giving a new definition to an old 

I am not a Jew and have no warrant either to censure these 
people or to instruct them. It is task enough to understand 
them. But the Jews who are our neighbors need us and are 
needed by us. This would be a happier land if the barriers that 
keep us apart were taken away. I write these words with dif- 
fidence and send them on with hesitation, lest I be misunderstood. 
Only the appearance of a vigorous article urging what seemed to 
me to be a disastrous course of action would have prompted me 
to write on the subject at all. 


In reading the title "The Natural History of Race Prejudice " 
the reader is asked to regard the occurrence of race prejudice as a 
natural phenomenon, just as truly as a drought, an earthquake, 
or an epidemic of small pox. Race prejudice is defended by 
some as desirable; it is deprecated by others as an evil. Men 
have their opinions and attitudes on the subject, but it is not the 
purpose here to discuss this phase of it. However good or bad 
the prejudice may be, it is assumed to be possible, and believed 
to be advantageous, to view the matter with detachment and 
to look to the conditions under which this phenomenon appears, 
the cause or causes of its origin, the forms it assumes, the condi- 
tions under which it has increased or diminished in intensity, and 
whether it disappears, and why. This chapter is too brief to do 
more than suggest a treatment of the topic. 

The advantage of this mode of procedure is apparent. The 
history of science seems to show that this method is more fruit- 
ful. Knowledge is power; science gives control; to see is to fore- 
see. We can effectively change and control only those events 
that we can formulate. 

Race prejudice is a special form of class prejudice and does not 
differ in attitude. The only difference is in the object. There 
may be in a community a prejudice against preachers or soldiers 
or Republicans. The prejudice against radicals is like the 
prejudice against Negroes, except for its mutability. Religion 
or politics are voluntary and can be changed, while race is rela- 
tively independent of the will. 

But class and race prejudice in turn are special forms of a 
larger category of human experience, namely, prejudice in general. 
Men speak of prejudice against the Anti-saloon League, too short 
skirts, the yellow press, cigarettes, and small towns. 

Prejudice is not easy to define, for it is bound up with emotion 
and contains usually an element of reproach. The dictionary 



may tell that prejudice is "an opinion or leaning adverse to any- 
thing without just grounds or sufficient knowledge/' but it is 
not easy to agree as to what grounds are just or what knowledge 
is sufficient. And race prejudice, like all prejudices after they 
endure over a period of time, tends to be supported by arguments. 
The grounds may not be rational to a critic, but they may seem 
rational to those who hold the views. If often happens that 
prejudice is denied by one in whom others confidently assert 

Nevertheless, for practical purposes, this difficulty is not great. 
Race prejudice is recognized as a feeling of antipathy or a tendency 
to withdraw or limit one's contacts toward the members of a 
certain racial group. 

It is important to observe that race prejudice is typically a 
collective thing. It characterizes a group. It is not private; it 
is public. Of course, the manifestations are individual, but the 
point is that race prejudice is of no importance unless the same 
or similar attitudes and feelings occur in many people at once. 
Race prejudice, then, belongs in the field of public opinion or 
public sentiment. 

It is of importance also to point out that race prejudice is 
attached to the soil. It characterizes a given area and a study 
of race prejudice can never be adequately made without a map. 
The significance of this fact arises when we discover that individ- 
uals migrating into an area where a certain prejudice exists tend 
to acquire it, although it was absent from their original region. 
One cannot discuss the subject concretely without a reference to 
certain areas. The student thinks of the prejudice against Jews 
in Rumania, against Negroes in Mississippi, against Japanese in 

In attempting to understand the nature of race prejudice it is 
important to observe its wide extent. The Japanese have been 
referred to as the object of prejudice in California, but in Japan 
the Eta people, who number well over a million, are the objects 
of an extreme form of prejudice. An Eta is not supposed to 
enter the temple for worship. In one recorded instance an Eta 
insisted on being allowed to worship and said to those who 
deterred him, " I also am a human being. Why cannot I worship 
the gods?" The crowd set upon him and he was killed. When 
his friends complained to the magistrate, they were told, "One 


human being is equal to seven Etas. A man cannot be punished 
for killing one-seventh of a man. Come back to me when six 
more of you have been killed/' There is prejudice against the 
Eurasians in China, against the natives, the Mulattoes and the 
Hindus in South Africa, against the Mexicans in southern Texas, 
against the Jews in most parts of the world, and so on around the 

If now we inquire into the conditions under which the phe- 
nomenon appears, we are able to say that there is a quantitative 
requirement or precondition which seems necessary. If only a 
few members of an alien group appear, they do not usually call 
out any such attitudes. The first Japanese were received in the 
United States with every evidence of welcome. Forty years 
ago a Japanese gentleman married an American girl in Chicago. 
The wedding was the occasion of widespread interest, and one 
newspaper devoted a whole page of its Sunday edition to pictures 
and description of the event. The prejudice against the Japanese 
did not arise until they had appeared in far larger numbers. The 
same remark applies to the Armenians in the West, In Natal, 
South Africa, the British residents invited and imported men 
from India to work. This was in 1865. The workers were 
welcomed and it is agreed that their labor saved the colony from 
financial disaster. Thirty years later there were more than a 
hundred thousand of the immigrants and the prejudice against 
them was intense. There were Jim Crow laws for the railroads, 
but Hindus were forbidden on the streetcars altogether. More- 
over, they were forbidden to walk on the sidewalk and restrictions 
and social ostracism took an extreme form. 

These and similar facts have led to the statement, very widely 
accepted, that race prejudice is caused by economic competition. 
Undoubtedly economic competition does occasion such senti- 
ments, but this appears not to be everywhere the case. There 
was recently a widespread and very strong feeling in China against 
two racial groups, the Japanese and the English. Not only has 
there been an economic boycott, merchants refusing to handle 
the goods from these nations, but the coolies have refused to 
work for any Englishman or Japanese, and prominent Chinese 
have dropped their membership in clubs because of their feelings. 
This movement is so recent that we can state the facts with 
confidence. Hostility to the Japanese was occasioned by the 


fear of aggression, brought to a dramatic climax by the twenty- 
one demands, while the hostility to the English grew out of their 
refusal in the Washington Conference to allow the Chinese to 
regulate their own tariff provisions. In both cases the feeling 
was stirred up by the Chinese students, who were hardly in any 
noticeable condition of competition, at least economic. The 
students petitioned the government, interviewed the merchants, 
and harangued the coolies. The effect was quite typical, but 
the cause is not apparently the one ordinarily assigned. 

Race prejudice has often been asserted by popular writers to 
be instinctive or hereditary. While this appears to be a complete 
misstatement, it is a very excusable one. The error arises from 
the normal tendency of unsophisticated people to confuse the 
customary with the natural. When children grow up in a com- 
munity, they take on the customs and attitudes prevailing, some 
of which are very old while others are quite recent in origin. But 
the children can make no distinction between the new and the 
old, and when the attitudes have become second nature, they 
are often thought of as innate or natural. It is said to be "in the 
blood." That this is not true can be shown by a comparison in 
space and time of the same racial stock in respect of this preju- 
dice. The English in South Africa manifest it to an intense 
degree, as they do also in China against the natives, in sections 
of Canada against the French, and in parts of India and par- 
ticularly in Australia. Yet these same English in New Zealand 
do not have much prejudice against the Maoris, who differ from 
them far more in complexion and civilization than do the Cana- 
dian French. Moreover, the prejudice against Jews in England 
has been greatly mitigated. No doubt some exists, but it is 
undeniable that there has been an important modification in the 
direction of assimilation. 

Nor is it possible to assert that wherever two races meet each 
other there will be prejudice. A list of the areas where it does 
occur would be too long, but we may repeat that in South Africa 
the English have prejudice against at least four groups; and in 
Turkey the phenomenon was intense. The Poles and the Lithu- 
anians furnish an extreme example; the prejudice between the 
French and the English in Canada has been mentioned; the 
Negroes in the United States are the objects of it; while in Haiti 
it is possible to describe a prejudice of the blacks against the 


whites. The French have their anti-Semitism, which is perhaps 
most severe in Rumania. The list if complete would be very 
long, but I mention that in Chicago there has developed a racial 
prejudice between the Polish residents and the Mexicans, due in 
part to economic competition and to certain tragic events that 
accentuated the feeling. 

On the other hand, race prejudice is relatively absent from 
Switzerland, the English have lost much of their feeling against 
the Jews, three races live without race prejudice in Brazil, there 
is no prejudice against the Indians as Indians in Mexico, two 
races live without prejudice in New Zealand, several racial groups 
live together without prejudice in Hawaii, and the phenomenon 
has never occurred in Greenland, in the southern portions of 
which the common racial type is a mixture of Nordic and Eskimo 

If now we inquire more specifically into the conditions of race 
prejudice, it appears that in all cases there is some form of con- 
flict. It may be, and often is, a struggle for money, work, bread, 
but in many cases it is a struggle for position, status, social prom- 
inence, and when it occurs there seems to be a necessity for a 
definite group consciousness; an esprit de corp arises in one group 
in contrast to their conception of the other. It is interesting to 
notice that prejudice is thus double-edged. The prejudice against 
one group arises with the prejudice for another; prejudice is the 
other end of one type of loyalty. It is this fact that has made it 
so easy for those who defend race prejudice and exclusion to 
present plausible arguments and rationalizations. 

The extreme form of race prejudice, or better, perhaps, one 
extreme limit of its development results in a condition of stability 
in which it is sometimes difficult to recognize the main features 
of prejudice. I refer to the accommodation or acceptance of the 
situation on both sides, in which case the inferior group ceases to 
struggle against the controlling one. (This characterizes much 
of the relation between the Southern masters and their slaves 
before the war.) It is seen in its extreme form in the caste 
system of India. Now, it would be a profitless argument to 
insist that caste is not prejudice, but for the fact that the accept- 
ance does alter the whole psychology. At the present time, 
when caste in India is beginning to disintegrate, prejudice is more 
easy to find. 


The caste lines are, or were, extremely rigid. The members 
of a caste had the same occupation and what we call the social 
ladder, which is used by the social climbers, did not and could not 
exist. A poor man's children could never expect to rise in the 
world by getting into another group. Moreover, a person could 
not marry save in his own caste. He could not eat with another 
not in his own caste, his meals must not be cooked except by 
one of his own caste, neither could the cooked food be handled by 
anyone of another group. The interesting thing to the psycholo- 
gist here is the form which the defense of such a situation nor- 
mally takes. Anyone familiar with the literature of educated 
Indians on this subject will recall how often the condition has 
been defended as being desirable because of the benefits to civiliza- 
tion and humanity which flow from loyalty to one's own group. 
Exactly the same arguments occur in the writings of Americans 
in general and Southerners in particular on the question of race 
mixture in the South. The utterances of the Ku Klux Klan 
abound in highly idealistic phrases of loyalty and devotion to 
the precious heritage of the superior group. 

This leads us to the question of the motives which govern race 
prejudice, and the social psychologists have discovered an impor- 
tant principle which applies. It is now known that in the case of 
an ancient custom the motives are certain to vary. This is partly 
due to the fact that the custom is more difficult to change than 
is its motive. Children carry on the custom without any motive, 
and if the old motive must be given up, a new one spontaneously 
arises and men try to phrase their motives so that others will not 
condemn them. It is hard to imagine the published defense of 
race exclusion assigned to the motive of hatred or of fear. It is 
not conscious hypocrisy; it is the normal thing in human nature 
to attempt to make our actions appear as defensible as possible. 

There are, thus, survivals in the plays and games of children, 
in the customs of weddings, funerals, and baptisms which go 
back to rather humble origins but which continue from approved 
modern motives. Likewise with race prejudice. Sometimes 
the despised race is represented as inferior, but a recent writer 
in California defended the severity toward the Japanese and 
concluded with the statement, "If the Japanese are superior 
people, so much the worse. " One can read rationalizations which 
take the form of a pseudo-scientific assertion, that while both 


races may be good, the mixture is bad. There is nothing in this 
except the ingenuity of an author who rather pathetically grasps 
at a poor reason when he has had to abandon the others. 

Race prejudice, thus, can be shown to be founded not on reason 
but on sentiments lying deeper and to be relatively impervious to 
rational arguments. Defenders of the Negro can martial many 
interesting and important facts. In 1870 the Negro in the 
United States owned 12,000 homes, 20,000 farms, and property 
to the value of $20,000,000. At a later time they owned 
700,000 homes, 1,000,000 farms, and were worth $1,800,000,000. 
They own 22,000,000 acres of land, which is equal to the area of 
New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and 
Connecticut. These facts are very interesting and very impor- 
tant, but when they are quoted to a person who is defending race 
prejudice in America their effect is sometimes absolutely nothing. 

In the concrete social phenomena, particularly those of a col- 
lective nature, we may distinguish two parts or elements. One 
of these is relatively changeable and arises from the need men 
feel to be logical and the desire they have to appear reasonable 
to their fellows. The other element is relatively invariable and is 
based upon, or is the expression of, the interests and the emotions 
which lie deep in the personality. These are the social atti- 
tudes, and race prejudice is one of them. It is not the result of 
calm reasoning but arises from an emotional condition in a specific 
social setting. This attitude is defended by arguments but is 
not necessarily altered by counterarguments. 

If the reasons assigned for the prejudice are shown to be bad, 
the usual effect will be the abandonment of the reasons and the 
assertion of new reasons for the same old attitude. Race preju- 
dice, as will be later shown, can be lost and does on occasion disap- 
pear, but it is perhaps futile to expect the attitude to yield to 
mere arguments, though, of course, there is no reason why men 
who wish to argue may not do so. 

We may attempt to summarize the views here expressed under 
the following heads: 

1. Race prejudice is very widespread. It is almost universal. 
Indeed, sociologists would agree that it might appear anywhere 
on the planet and has actually been manifested by every racial 
group. Those who are the victims of exclusion in some areas are 
themselves exclusive in other places. The Chinese may be dis- 


criminated against in America, but the Chinese in China have 
exhibited the same antagonism against other racial groups. The 
Japanese are discriminated against, but at times they themselves 
are discriminating and so with the peoples of India, whether 
Hindus or Mohammedans, not to mention the various color lines 
which exist among American Negroes. We shall therefore be 
most accurate in our formulation of race prejudice if we regard 
it as a natural phenomenon and normal in the sense in which 
Durkheim speaks of crime as normal or poverty or suicide, by 
which he means that, under given conditions, the statistical facts 
force the prediction that the phenomenon will continue to occur. 

2. Race prejudice is not one culture pattern but many. It 
takes many forms and exhibits many degrees. There is always 
involved a collective attitude of exclusiveness, the object of preju- 
dice being kept at a greater distance than the members of one's 
own race. But this social distance varies, and a rough measure 
or scale could be made, and has indeed been attempted. The 
members of the out-group are in some places completely excluded 
from every form of contact, as, for example, in India where the 
very shadow of an untouchable is a contamination, or again, the 
out-group may mingle freely in public thoroughfares but may not 
sit as neighbors in a public assembly. Sometimes the line is 
drawn at eating together, where it forbids or permits public 
assemblies of a religious nature, and so on through separate 
scales to complete " social equality" and the approved courtship 
and marriage between the young people of the two groups. The 
exact conditions under which the line is drawn in each case 
might be historically accounted for, but there is little or no logic 
in it and it can easily be shown to be absurd. As before remarked, 
however, one may admit the absurdity and retain the attitude. 

3. When race prejudice arises, it appears to follow a pattern 
which has been set locally in the mores, if such pattern be present. 
Thus the extreme form of exclusiveness toward the Indians in 
South Africa can be explained only by the previously acquired 
attitudes toward the native Negroes. Feeling against the 
Indians was no higher in Natal than that against the Japanese 
in California, but the form of exclusion is different, and this 
pattern was followed in each case. A recent court decision in 
Mississippi excludes Chinese from the public schools. This is 
understandable if we recall the pattern existing with reference 


to the Negroes in the south. It may be called a certain con- 
sistency in exclusiveness and follows a certain law of habit. 

If prejudice arises where there is no pattern or tradition, it 
may take original forms. Thus, the children of the slave women 
in the South who were not acknowledged by their fathers and 
who lived with their mothers brought about the classification 
of Mulattoes and full-bloods as members of the same excluded 
group. In the Portuguese colonies, where such children were 
recognized and publicly acknowledged by the father, the Mulatto 
came to be classed with the white group. In Cape Colony the 
Mulatto received certain concessions, as for example, the right to 
vote, which tended to make them into a third caste quite dif- 
ferent from the situation in the two other cases. 

4. Race prejudice having arisen, it may be intensified or 
mitigated by social experiences. It is aggravated by any con- 
flict between the groups. If conflict ceases entirely, a condition 
of equilibrium known as accommodation ensues and the feeling 
is reduced to a minimum. If, however, the conflict or hostility 
arises in a form where the in-group and out-group unite against a 
common antagonist or enemy, the result is always to mitigate the 
prejudice and to act in the direction of its removal. 

During the World War there was a period when the Negro 
soldiers and the Negro man-power were regarded as valuable 
assets to the nation. Men who had never done so before used 
the words "we" and " us " to include the Negro and white groups 
taken together. Had the conflict lasted longer, and had it at 
the same time threatened to go against us, this common feeling 
would have been more enduring. What happened is a matter 
of common knowledge. The unexpected armistice released the 
tension and in some places a very strong reaction took place. 
Nevertheless, the period is part of the experience of the nation, 
and the ultimate result in social evolution will be affected by what 
happened in 1917-1918. 

5. Race prejudice is increased both in intensity and in duration 
when to the difference in heredity is added the factor of religious 
or other social barrier. Anti-Semitism seems almost perennial, 
and part of the explanation may be looked for in the multiplicity 
of barriers to freedom of social intercourse. Each new wave of 
immigration supplies a group who differ even in dress. The 
dietary differences are by no means negligible, though these tend 


to disappear, but the religious separation continues to accentuate 
and emphasize the objects of exclusion when the original motives 
and occasions have disappeared. Still, it is possible to over-state 
this point. The definition of the we-group and the out-group 
depends upon the arousal of group consciousness, and this may 
take place in disregard of any single type of separation, whether 
religious, racial, or any other. The massacre at Amritsar united 
for the time being men in south India with the inhabitants of the 
Punjab in an intense feeling of brotherhood, in spite of many 
differences and in spite of ancient historical antipathy. It is a 
common practice of Hindu students in American universities to 
wear a turban or some distinctive mark, so that they will not be 
classed as Negroes. Yet it sometimes happens that a series of 
unpleasant experiences will entirely change this attitude and the 
Hindu will class himself as a colored man, aligning himself with 
the American Negro. This phenomenon follows the normal 
law of group consciousness which, perhaps, needs no further 

6. Race prejudice cannot only be mitigated, it can disappear. 
In many cases it has entirely disappeared and in other situations 
it is obviously decreasing. The Norman Conquest of England 
was followed by a period of racial hostility and prejudice, but at 
the present time there is hardly a vestige of the feeling remaining. 
There was an unmistakable race prejudice against German 
immigrants in this country and the successive groups of Germans, 
Irish, and French felt the effects of this same phenomenon. At 
the present time the race prejudice against these three groups is 
hardly more than vestigial. The hostility which the Germans 
and the Irish encountered is now turned against Italians, Poles, 
Mexicans, and others, but there seems no discoverable difference 
between the treatment of these last and the way in which the 
former groups were originally received. 

7. If we inquire more particularly into the stages of integration, 
it seems that there can be distinguished certain generalized 
aspects. There is first of all the gradual taking over of the 
customs of the dominant group. This is observed first in the 
costumes, particularly the costumes of the men who go freely 
among the natives, and of the children and young people who are 
sensitive to the criticism of those among whom they move. 
Costume is more conservative in the case of the older women, 


chiefly because of the domestic isolation. Next follows the mat- 
ter of language. Those of the first generation learn to talk 
English if possible, but they are sometimes too busy. The 
second generation has usually two languages, but the members 
of the third generation often discard the heritage of their fathers 
for the custom of the country. 

The sociologist sees in the public schools of America the real 
melting pot. The immigrant children are confronted with the 
new culture in a way that forces them to adopt it. The methods 
are sometimes brutal, the ridicule of the natives being the most 
cruel weapon, and because the children are young and defenseless 
they capitulate rather promptly and are absorbed into the cultural 
life of their schoolmates. We can generalize all these processes 
under the head of common experiences which, as before men- 
tioned, are the sources of group consciousness and group loyalty. 
The bi-racial committees in the South have often been little more 
than informal conferences by leading members of both races to 
talk over a situation, to see what can be done. These committees 
help to create a temporary we-group and add ever so little 
to the stock of traditions which forms the stream of social 

An important means or method for the mitigation of race 
prejudice lies in the realm of art. To join with an Irish girl 
in order to help her persuade her father to let her marry a 
Jewish boy is not given to many Americans. But in the theater 
we may do this for two interesting and amusing hours. Art is 
an experience, a sort of vicarious experience, and yet, however 
vicarious it may be, it is an emotional experience and always 
modifies our emotional attitudes The exhibition of primitive 
African sculpture may have little effect, but it may have some. 
The reading of a powerful novel in which the human qualities of 
another race are made appealing acts like a powerful social 
cement to bind together the hitherto unconnected fragments of a 
social body. 

Of course, art can work both ways. The Negroes objected 
to the Birth of the Nation and the Clansman. No one who 
strongly desired the disappearance of race prejudice between 
whites and Negroes would care to see this drama continue in its 
popularity. Indeed, it may be thought of as a direct reaction 
to Uncle Tom's Cabin. 


8. Race prejudice, being at the same time a collective and an 
emotional condition, is modified slowly. It is not an individual 
phenomenon, though every serious individual modification may 
be theoretically assumed to have some effect on the whole. The 
important point is that the subjective emotions are only half, 
the other half being the external conditions and organized regula- 
tions. It is only partly true to say that religious emotions or 
principles can remove this prejudice. This would be to neglect 
the necessity of a change in the external conditions. There is, 
therefore, a double problem ; the one side psychological, the other, 
institutional. Any attempt to study it or change it without 
recognizing this is apparently doomed to disappointment. This 
is the sense in which race prejudice is appropriately called a 
natural phenomenon. It changes slowly but it does change. 
A too-sudden modification, either of attitude or institution, is 
not only impermanent in character but tends to be followed by a 
reaction which temporarily leaves the last state worse than the 

9. But to call race prejudice a natural phenomenon is not to 
assume that it should be endured or accepted. If we may call 
race prejudice natural, we must also admit suicide, murder, and 
automobile accidents into this same class. These disturb us 
and we try to mitigate them, but perhaps we shall never wholly 
succeed. Nevertheless, the unwelcome effects are undeniable 
and should be clearly kept in mind. 

Race prejudice is narrowing. It may intensify loyalty to 
one's own group; it certainly produces blindness when members 
of the out-group are considered. We regard as human those 
whom we can sympathize with, whose motives we understand, 
and whose feelings we recognize to be like our own. The barriers 
men erect in prejudice make it sometimes difficult, sometimes 
impossible to regard the member of an excluded group as being 
wholly human. If we fight the Germans, we tend to regard them 
as Huns, as man-like beasts, as cruel savages. If we exclude 
Negroes, we call them inferior or patronize them as being emotion- 
ally gifted but intellectually deficient. Reactionaries of today 
speak of the south Europeans as coming from unassimilable 
stocks. Sometimes a man who feels this way writes a book to 
prove it and calls it science. But let us not be deceived; there is 
always an emotional element which is difficult to alter and eve& 


hard to make explicit. It is a sentiment of race prejudice, and 
it narrows the individual life and always weakens the society 
where it exists. 

The effect of race prejudice on individuals who hold it is to 
limit their power of discrimination. It blinds a man to differences 
where these would otherwise be easily seen. Persons are treated 
according to a stereotype and not as separate and distinct 
individualities. This is a sort of mental laziness, due to the 
emotional attitude which, being directed toward a class, is mani- 
fested toward the varying members of the class as if they did not 

The object of this chapter has been to show that the desire to 
change a prejudice is more likely to succeed if we first understand 
fully the nature of prejudice. Those who are interested in remov- 
ing a social attitude are more apt to succeed if they first are 
successful in understanding why people who have the attitude 
do have it. 


Absolutism, 304 

Accommodation, 358 

Act, 146, 147 

Alliterative concord, 267 

Allport, F. H., 39, 58, 127, 160, 197 

Amana Community, 49, 51 

Ames, E. S., 64, 165 

Andamans, 107, 297 

Angell, J. R., 63, 64, 144, 155, 262 

Art, as mitigating prejudice, 364 

Associationism, 178 

Atkins, W. E., 133, 142 

Attitudes, 57, 186, 187 

definition of, 136 

racial, 317 

resolution of crises, 140 

social, 127-154 
Aurelius, Marcus, 257 


Bain, Read, 145 

Baldwin, J. M., 157 

Bankundo, 68 

Bantu, Congo, 267, 278-288 

Bartlett, F. C., 15 

Becterew, W., 160 

Behavior, 144 

Behaviorism, 39, 156, 160, 178, 180, 

182, 241 

Bentham, J., 160 
Bernard, L. L., 156, 160, 169 
Bivalence, 322 
Boaz, Franz, 252, 262 
Bogardus, E. S., 127 
Burgess, E. W., 127 
Bushman tribes, 107 

Campbell, Alexander, 49 

Cane Ridge revival, 274 

Carroll, Lewis, 79 

Catholicism, 344, 346 

Character education, 208, 241-248 

Children, discipline of, 234-240 

fundamental tendencies of, 226- 

punishment of, 88, 89 
Collective psychology, 168 
Communication, 189 
Community studies, 103 
Competition, 356 
Conflict, 2, 51, 52, 339, 358 

race, 340 

religious, 339 
Conscience, 308 
Consciousness of kind, 50 
Control, 305 
Cooley, C. H., 7, 9, 17, 36, 37, 40, 

43, 64, 157, 162 
Cooperation, 348 
Crowds, 74, 76 
Culture, 21, 35, 228, 278, 299 

pattern, 361 

priority of, 3, 30 
Custom, 307 
Cyprolithic age, 291 


Davenport, F. M., 273 

Derivations, 199, 326 

Descartes, 160, 257 

Desires, 151, 184, 185 

Deterrence theory, 111 

Dewey, John, 98, 127, 129, 133, 135, 

136, 144, 152, 159, 165, 233, 252, 

262, 305 




Diffusion of culture, 25, 260, 298 
Discipline, 234 
Downey, June E., 72 
Drever, James, 62, 69 
Dunkers, 54 
Dunlap, Knight, 132 
Durkheim, Emile, 134, 157, 197 


Ecological areas, 34, 103 
Education, 205-209, 210-215, 241- 


Edwards, Thomas, 50, 51, 52, 59 
Elements in psychology, 173-189 
Elite, 200 
Ellwood, C. A., 64 
Environment, 295 
Eskimo children, 107 
Eta people, 355, 356 
Ethnocentrism, 13, 14, 282, 301, 331, 


linguistic, 14 
" scientific," 13 
Ethnology, 254-261 
Expiation, theory of, 110 

Faculties, mental, 187 
Fairchild, H. P., 334, 335 
Fails sodaux, 23 
Family discipline, 234-240 
Fisher, Galen, 338 
Folkways, 23, 308, 311 
Frazer, J. G., 134, 284 
Freud, S., 64, 161, 255, 284 
Friendship, 230 


Generalization, 264 

Gestalt psychology, 146, 156, 162, 


Giddings, F. H., 50 
Group consciousness, 318 
Groups, 99-101, 230 
priority of, 98 

Habit, 136, 236 
Hayes, E. C., 64 
Hegel, G. W. F., 110, 174 
Henley, W. E., 20 
Herbart, J. F., 110 
Hereditary tendencies, 238 
Heredity, 333, 357 
Hobhouse, L. T., 90 
Hollingsworth, H. L., 146 
Holmes, O. W., 40 
Human nature, 7-20, 188 

mutability of, 18 
Hunter, W. S., 61, 64 

Ibibio tribe, 67 
Ideas, 175, 187 

innate, 175 

Imageless thought, 180 
Imagination, 3 
Imitation, 73-83 

immediate, 77 

intentional, 81 

slow, unwitting, 80 
Imitativeness, 272 
Impulses, 236 
Independent origin, 296 
Individual, 211, 228 
Inhibition, 272 
Insanity, 288 

Instincts, 15, 61-72, 158, 187, 196, 
226, 258 

controversy about, 169 
Institutions, 309, 311, 312 
Integration, 363 
Intellectualism, 228 
Interview method, 102 
Introspection, 181, 255 
Isolation, 280 

James, William, 22, 61, 65, 155, 175, 

179, 247 

Jews, 338, 342, 343, 348, 350-353 
Jung, C. S., 64 




Kant, E., 28 
Kempf, E. J., 256 
Kingsley, Charles, 78 
Kipling, R., 329 
Koffka, K., 127 
Kropotkin, P., 64 


Negro, American, 276 
Neolithic age, 291 
Neuroses, 256 
Nordic race, 72 


Lang, Andrew, 67, 85 
Language, 97, 266 

"drum," 281 
Lasswell, H. D., 133, 143 
Leadership, 31, 33 
LeBon, G., 64 
Lee, Ann, 48 
Le>y-Bruhl, L., 28, 134, 251, 282, 

284, 323 

Life history, 102 
Locke, John, 257 
Loyalty, 230 


McDougall, William, 13-16, 61, 
62, 64, 67, 71, 73, 82, 85, 155, 
156, 158, 159, 170, 196, 197, 
257, 280 
Magic, 283 
Marett, R. R., 134 
Marginal man, 33, 34 
Mead, George H., 7, 79, 144, 165 
Merriam, C. E., 143 
Methods of investigation, 102-104 
Mill, J. S., 160 
Missionaries, 223 
Moody, William Vaughan, 42 
Moore, Addison W., 165 
Morale, 239 
Mores, 216-225, 308, 311 

irresistability of, 220 

mutability of, 221 

non-rationality of, 219 
Mormomsm, 47 
Mormons, 54 
Munsterberg, H., 62, 64 
Mythapoeic error, 265 

Opinion, 141 
Oppenheimer, Franz, 110 

Paleolithic age, 290 

Pareto, V., 1, 57, 58, 152, 190-201 

Park, R. E., 33, 57, 127, 320 

Parker Carleton, 64 

Patrick, G. T. W., 66 

Penn, William, 31 

Perry, W. J., 303 

Personality, 53, 130, 169, 189, 278 

Phrenology, 176 

Pillsbury, W. B., 62, 64 

Political science, 172 

Polyandry, 259 

Polynesians, 297 

Prejudice, 321-322, 325, 348, 354- 

Preliterate peoples, 215, 251-254, 

282, 292 
Primary group, 36-45, 213, 215, 235, 


Primitive man, 260 
Progress, 294, 302 
Protestants, 344 
Psychiatry, 171 

Psychoanalysis, 161, 183, 184, 280 
Psychological elements, 173-189 
Psychologist's fallacy, 264 
Psychology, animal, 160, 256 

associationist, 176 

faculty, 176 

genetic, 70 

introspective, 12 

physiological, 21 

social, 155-172 



Pueblo tribe, 107 

Punishment, 84-95, 96-123, 220 

of children, 88, 89 

theories of, 110, 111 


Race, 287 

Race prejudice, 263, 317, 354-366 

a natural phenomenon, 354, 365 
Rasmussen, K., 107, 289 
Ratcliffe-Brown, A., 107 
Rationalism, 229 
Rationalization, 326 
Ratzenhofer, G., 134 
Raup, R. B., 145 
Reflex, 65 

conditioned, 161 
Reformation, theory of, 111 
Religion, 225 
Religious experience, 247 
Representations collectives, 17, 28, 

157, 208 
Residues, 198 
Response, 245 
Role taking, 9 
Ross, E. A., 74, 155, 157 
Royce, Josiah, 131 

Sect and sectarian, 46-60 

Sensation, 177 

Sentiments, 317 

Silcox, C. E., 338 

Small, A. W., 134 

Smith, Eliott, 303 

Snedden, D. S., 206 

Social evolution, 289-313 

Social heritage, 210 

Spencer, Herbert, 13, 23, 84, 174, 

252, 260, 262, 271, 284 
Stefansson, V., 88, 89, 106, 266, 271, 

Stimulus, 245, 246 

correlative with response, 147, 246 
Sumner, W. G., 23, 134, 191 

Symonds, P. M., 145 
Sympathy, 12 

Taboos, 272 

Tarde, G., 75, 157 

Temperament, 56 

Thomas, W. I., 57, 71, 127, 128, 133, 

135, 138, 142, 143, 262 
Thorndike, E. L., 61, 62 
Thought, imageless, 160, 180 
Thurstone, L. L., 58, 152, 171 
Titchener, E. B., 155 
Toleration, 51-52 
Trotter, W., 64 
Tufts, J. H., 165 
Twain, Mark, 78, 329 


Unconscious, the, 184 

Values, 4 


Wallas, Graham, 64, 135 
Warren, H. C., 64, 158 
Watson, J. B., 62-65, 160 
Wheeler, W. M., 9 
White, Andrew D., 305 
Williams, J. M., 127, 133, 142, 152 
Wilson, Woodrow, 188 
Wishes, 184, 185 

as elements, 130 
Wissler, C., 23 
Woodworth, R. S., 146 
Writing, 303 

alphabetical, 302 

sign of civilization, 253 
Wundt, W., 62, 134, 157, 168 


Zangwell, Israel, 334 

Zionism, 352 

Znaniecki, F., 57, 71, 133, 135, 142